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Mission Possible (2021) Review

Despite the title, Mission Possible isn’t a parody of the Mission Impossible franchise. It doesn’t have those films’ outrageous stunts or outrageous budgets. Thankfully it doesn’t have Tom Cruise either.

Mission Possible (미션 파서블) is a Jackie Chan style action comedy from Korea. While I’ve seen plenty of action films and thrillers from Korea, ranging from The Swordsman and Jo Pil-Ho: The Dawning Rage to Ashfall and The Man Standing Next. But they’re all serious films, I hadn’t seen a Korean action comedy, or any Korean comedy for that matter. So I decided to give it a watch.

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After Chinese criminals hijack a truckload of guns and ship them to South Korea, the Chinese government has a problem. Sending someone to Korea to investigate is too risky, but they have to at least appear to be doing something. They send Yoo Da-hee (Sun-Bin Lee, Rampant, OK! Madam) a rookie, and therefore expendable, agent.

One of her fellow agents convinces a Korean Intelligence agent to help her, off the record, of course. Instead, she ends up mistaking Woo Su-han (Kim Young-kwang, Runway Cop, On Your Wedding Day) a bumbling, and broke, private investigator for her contact. The pair soon find themselves in way over their heads and with a trail of bodies behind them. Bodies that the police would like to talk to them about.

Apart from the open gun battle between the police and the gun runners, the first half of Mission Possible is almost all comedy and no action. And the comedy is on the extremely silly side mostly revolving around Woo’s love of money and lack of IQ. I found it a bit too goofy for my tastes’. It also made him appear so incompetent that it made a crucial plot development seem very unbelievable.

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There’s also a recurring joke about a character who’s assumed to be gay and “outed” in a viral video. I understand different cultures, different values, but some viewers may find the idea that being outed is an acceptable reason to try to kill yourself, and a subject for jokes, offensive. Others, especially in the US, may have the same reaction to some of the anti-gun rhetoric in the film.

Some of it is funny, and the leads have good chemistry and are good at getting the humour across. But I found myself rolling my eyes as often as I laughed. A somewhat more serious subplot involving a woman from Woo’s past (Park Ji-Yeon, I Saw the Devil) that tries to give him some depth. Unfortunately, for most of the film, it makes him look even more hapless.

Thankfully, once the action kicks in in the film’s second half, things pick up quickly. There’s a great fight in a hotel kitchen, with plenty of improvised weapons to mark the changeover. The tone also becomes more serious as Woo learns just what is going on and has to save Yoo. We get a revelation about him at this point that, while not unexpected for a film like Mission Possible, seems totally at odds with what we’ve seen of him previously. I had the same reaction as the chief of detectives (Seo Hyeon Cheol), “That dumbass?”.

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If you can deal with Ace Ventura turning into John Wick, Mission Possible does deliver a great final act as the Yoo and Woo take on a warehouse full of gangsters. The climactic knife fight is particularly well done. I found Mission Possible to be mildly amusing. If its style of humour is more in tune with yours, you’ll probably have a much better time with it though.

Mission Possible was released in Korea in February and will be released in Japan in May. It’s recently become available to stream in North America.

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Our Score

1 thought on “Mission Possible (2021) Review”

  1. I’ve been following Korean genre cinema for more than 20 years now, and most Korean movies are works of meticulous craftsmanship. But their comedic sensibilities are, mildly put, an acquired taste to Westerners like myself. Slapsticky, loud and, well, goofy just like you said. Cuitural differences indeed, blended with plain old personal taste.

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