The Soul-mate film review: crime drama, buddy movie, supernatural romance – it’s a glorious mishmash
- Contrived plot points, coincidences, nonsensical action and off-the-wall pacing – this Korean film is like one from the heyday of Hong Kong cinema
- Kim Young-kwang plays Tae-jin, a rookie cop left in a coma whose ‘soul’ appears to middle-aged widower played by Ma Dong-seok
Part buddy comedy, part crime drama, and with a dose of the supernatural wrapped around a typical tear-jerking Korean romance, The Soul-mate is a mishmash of genres rarely seen since the heyday of Hong Kong cinema.
Like those films, this is full of contrived plot points, coincidences, nonsensical action and off-the-wall pacing – but also likeable performances – comes with a meaningful message, and is not overly long. In other words, it is far from being a train wreck.
Kim Young-kwang plays Tae-jin, a rookie cop in a small South Korean city who stumbles upon a human trafficking ring. He finds evidence in the form of a memory card tying the crimes back to a local nightclub owner, but is betrayed by his colleague and police chief, who have been paid off by the criminals.
After an attack that leave Tae-jin in a coma, his “soul” leaves his body and begins roaming the real world. The only person who can see his spiritual, ghost-like form is a middle-aged widower named Jang-su (Ma Dong-seok). The situation is never explained, but the laughs mostly come from Jang-su’s interactions with a figure who cannot be seen by anyone else.
Jang-su initially refuses to help Tae-jin achieve justice, despite the criminals very clearly being a threat to his and his daughter’s life. There are subplots involving a plan by Tae-jin’s fiancée’ to buy back her childhood home, and Jang-su’s daughter needing heart surgery. There’s a lot going on.
To the filmmakers’ credit, all the plot points tie back together in the final minutes in an ending that less demanding audience members will find poignant but others will see as cheesy and cringeworthy.
The Soul-mate opens on November 22
Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook