We watched Extreme Job only because nothing else looked good on Netflix. I’m sure you’ve been in the same situation. You watch trailer after trailer, and you find none that’s really up your alley so you choose the one because it doesn’t look as bad as the others.
And then, the utter surprise that you made a serendipitious choice. That pretty much sums up our Extreme Job experience. I found myself laughing out loud scene after scene after scene. And that’s no mean feat because I usually thumb my nose at what most people define as comedy.
Extreme Job is a comedy? Yes, and a cop caper too. You have a team of undercover cops who just can’t manage to catch a drug lord red-handed. Team leader Chief Go (played by Ryu Seung-ryong, who is also the evil father-in-law in “Kingdom“) takes out his retirement fund and buys Brother Chicken, a flailing fried chicken restaurant, across the street from the drug lord’s lair. From there, they perform surveillance work.
But it’s impossible to keep the restaurant as a cover without raising suspicion in the neighborhood unless the place is really functioning as a restaurant. And that’s where the fun really begins. Each team member cooks a version of fried chicken so they can choose which is good enough to sell to the public. Detective Ma (Jin Seon-kyu) whose parents owned a restaurant back in his home town comes up with a winner by using his parent’s rib marinade to make sticky fried chicken.
Brother Chicken reopens, the food becomes famous and the team starts to lose focus as to which was more important — be cops and catch criminals or turn restauranteurs and make huge profits.
Despite the uneven tone of the film (there are rather dull scenes that just drag on unnecessarily), there’s plenty to keep the laughter going. Much of it has to do with the competence of the actors who delivered such natural performances. No trying-hard slapstick-types here (you know, like Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour movies). And the food… oh, my goodness, the food scenes…
The most memorable montage had chicken being scooped out of the deep fryer with a kitchen spider… I was wide-eyed and my mouth fell open. There was this momentary urge to hit the pause button on the remote and search Google if someone had already managed to replicate the fried chicken from the film so we could make our home version. But, you know, it was a momentary urge. We did finish the movie first before I scrambled to try to find a recipe.
I found out later that Extreme Job has become the second biggest box-office hit in South Korea. I’m not surprised. But it isn’t what I’d call a family film. There are enough violent scenes to label Extreme Job as not appropriate for children.