“A Millionaire on the Run” is another Korean caper flick that mixes comedy, drama, thrills and social commentary, directed by Kim Ik Ro, who previously worked as assistant director on horror “The Doll Master” and youth drama “Singles”. The film is notable for marking the big screen debut of Park Jin Young (or JYP), one of the most popular figures of the Korean entertainment industry of the last couple of decades, a singer, dancer, producer and song writer who also owns his own company, JYP Entertainment, which represents some of the country’s biggest pop names. Joining him as a man on the run is actress Min Hyo Rin (“Sunny”), with the award winning actor Jo Sung Ha (“Yellow Sea”) in the film’s villainous role.
Park Jin Young plays Choi Young In, a downtrodden corporate middle manager type whose boss Han (Jo Sung Ha) uses him and his colleague Kim (Jo Jing Woong, “Nameless Gangster”) to deliver bribes and kick-backs as part of a lobbying scheme involving a crooked politician. When a 5 million dollar delivery goes badly wrong, Choi finds himself on the run with the money, Han and his violent gangster business partner (Jo Hie Bong, “Blind”) on his tail. While trying to keep one step ahead of his pursuers, his path crosses with that of a young woman called Mi Ri (Min Hyo Rin), who is similarly on the run after inadvertently stealing diamonds from another crook. With a misunderstanding sending the police after them as well, the two join forces to clear their names and get even.
Probably the most important thing with Korean capers like “A Millionaire on the Run” is getting the balance between comedy, drama and action right, and thankfully Kim Ik Ro does a solid job in this respect. There’s certainly a lot going on, and once the film finds its feet after a somewhat random opening twenty minutes or so, it makes for fast paced, well-constructed fun. Though the plot itself is essentially pretty predictable and the ending never in much doubt, Kim manages the odd surprise along the way, and the various twists and revelations all work well enough to hold the interest. While the comedy is generally amusing and not too daft or slapstick obsessed, the film is at its best during the action scenes and set pieces, benefitting from a suitably manic feel during its chases and mass brawls. Things do heat up towards the end as the different factions pursuing Choi and Mi Ri inevitably clash heads, and the way in which the story wraps up is satisfying and reasonably clever, another must for films of this type.
As expected, the film is really the Park Jin Young show, with the charismatic star appearing in most of the scenes and largely dominating with his presence. Following up on his recent performance in the television series “Dream High”, he again sticks mainly to comedy, though successfully manages to get across a likeable everyman caught up in chaotic events type persona, which sits well with the film’s anti-establishment and corruption themes. This having been said, though he does get most of the best lines and funniest moments, the film never comes across as too much of an obvious JYP vehicle, with Min Hyo Rin also making her mark as the female lead, and the relationship of sorts which develops between them isn’t too forced. Jo Sung Ha is also on fine, deadpan form as the bad guy of the piece, suitably ruthless and scheming, yet at the same time recognisably human and oddly sympathetic as things spiral rapidly out of control.
Without doing anything terribly new or creative, “A Millionaire on the Run” is a respectable and enjoyable piece of manic entertainment that should be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys Korean capers. Park Jin Young successfully makes the transition to the big screen, and the film is another notch on his belt, boding well for his continuing quest to conquer all areas of the Korean industry.
Kim Ik-ro (director) / Cheon Seong-il (screenplay)
CAST: Park Jin-young