Film Review: The Accidental Detective 2: In Action

Two mismatched detectives try to solve a case involving murdered orphans in an undemanding crime comedy.
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A sequel to a 2015 Korean hit, The Accidental Detective 2: In Action reunites stars Kwon Sang-woo and Sung Dong-il in an easy-to-take comedy. The mystery may be obvious and the action nothing new, but the chemistry between the leads is pleasant enough to pass the time.

In the original, Kwon Sang-woo played Kang Dae-man, owner of a comic-book store and author of a blog about cold cases. Working with homicide detective Noh Tae-soo (Sung Dong-il), he helped solve a string of killings. At the start of the sequel, the two have decided to open their own detective agency (something only recently legalized in South Korea).

Dae-man sees himself as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, and at times he displays some knack for inductive reasoning. But he knows little about police work, which is where the gruff, recently retired Tae-soo comes in.

Work is slow until a pregnant fiancée asks them to look into the hit-and-run death of her betrothed. It turns out he was an orphan, one of several from an esteemed orphanage to have died recently. With the help of cyber crook Hopper (Lee Kwang-soo), the detectives uncover a scheme that leads all the way up to the orphanage’s board of directors.

Director Lee Eon-hee (billed as E.oni) structures AD2 like an episode in a TV series, one about bantering cops who stumble across clues and solutions while trying to contain domestic crises. Her staging is smooth but never surprising, and she doesn’t push the cast beyond the most basic character interpretations. But she sails through the increasingly whack plot without letting viewers get too distracted by things like logic.

Kwon Sang-woo understands the annoying aspects of his character, but is less successful finding believable emotional ties to the rest of the cast. Sung Dong-il, on the other hand, is calm, efficient and quite appealing as a no-nonsense former cop. Wild card Lee Kwang-soo, a new addition to the series, is supposed to be weird, offbeat, eccentric, but comes off as overly mannered instead.

Accidental Detective 2 operates from a formula that works almost anywhere. Like the far more slapstick-oriented Detective Chinatown series from Mainland China. Or like “Castle” or “The Closer” or any number of other TV series here—only without romance. Expect to be mildly entertained and you may not be disappointed.

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