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“Miss Conspirator” is a Korean comedy action romance directed by Park Chul Kwan, known for his popular 2001 gangster spoof “Hi Dharma!”. The film is headlined by top actress Ko Hyun Jung, star of hit television series like “Queen Seon Duk” and “What’s Up, Fox?”, here taking on a somewhat different role as a nervous, socially awkward woman who accidentally gets mixed up with gangsters and drug deals. The film also features a fine supporting cast of character actors, including Yu Hae Jin (“The Unjust”), Park Shin Yang (“The Big Swindle”), Sung Dong Il (“The Client”), Lee Moon Sik (“Battlefield Heroes”) and Ko Chang Seok (“Over my Dead Body”) as the various thugs, cops and drug smugglers making her life interesting.
The film follows Ko Hyun Jung as Soo Ro, an unfortunate woman in Busan who suffers from extreme anxiety attacks as a result of a near-drowning accident earlier in her life. Thrown into panic when her beloved sister goes away on a trip, she meets and confides in a nun she meets in a café, who asks her to make a delivery to her former love in a nearby hotel. Arriving on the scene, Soo Ro finds the man dead and herself caught up in a deadly feud between rival drug gangs who are convinced that she is the mysterious ‘Miss Go’. With the police also on her trail, she joins up with a double agent called Red Shoes (Yu Hae Jin), but it soon becomes clear that even he is not necessarily the trustworthy type.
“Miss Conspirator” was on the receiving end of some pretty uncomplimentary reviews on its original release in Korea, which is probably a little harsh, as while unambitious and generic, it’s a well-made film that’s perfectly enjoyable with appropriate expectations. Park Chul Kwan does a decent job in the director’s chair, keeping the focus chiefly on the comedy and throwing in a few action set pieces and thrills here and there. Despite lacking any real stand-out scenes, the film moves along at a reasonable pace, and is generally quite amiable, most of the humour revolving around harmless slapstick and the expected identity mix-ups and misunderstandings. Whilst generally light hearted and daft, Park knows when to be wacky and when to inject a touch of seriousness, and the plot itself is surprisingly involved, with lots of double crossing and side switching. The final outcome is never in any doubt of course, though the film manages a few entertainingly silly twists along the way, keeping viewers on-board for the ride.
Like many recent commercial films of the last few years, “Miss Conspirator” is first and foremost a star vehicle written around its lead, and thankfully actress Ko Hyun Jung is very likeable in the title role. Playing a markedly different character to the kind of strong, loud women she is usually known for, Ko makes the most of playing Soo Ro as a timid and often quite pathetic creature, adding a little emotional substance and keeping her sympathetic and vaguely believable. The film doesn’t go too far in transforming her from meek mouse to the action heroine suggested by the adverts and posters, and the fact that she remains fairly useless and terrified for most of the running time makes things more interesting and amusing.
Unsurprisingly, Soo Ro is the only fleshed out character in the film, with most of the male supporting cast on hand mainly as one-note goons, though all seem to have been having a fair amount of fun and turn in suitably wacky appearances. Sadly, this does mean that her romance with Yu Hae Jin really takes off, however the film is effective enough in its comedy and action for this not to matter too much.
Although none of this is sufficient to make “Miss Conspirator” particularly memorable, it’s a pleasant and jovial way to pass a couple of hours, with a decent quotient of laughs and action. Ko Hyun Jung is as appealing as ever, and lifts the film up a few notches with a typically charming performance, and with a game supporting cast and solid direction from Park Chul Kwan, genre fans should find plenty to enjoy.
Cheol-kwan Park (director) / Moon-Suk Choi, Beom-sik Jeong, Jeong Sik (screenplay)
CAST: Ko Hyun-Jung … Cheon Soo-ro
Hae-jin Yu … Red Shoes
Jae-suk Ha … Soo-Ro’s Sister
Chang-Seok Ko … Detective So
Jin Kyung … Miss Go
Mun-shik Lee … Sa Young-Cheol