The action-comedy sub-genre can be a gleefully entertaining experience, eschewing the penetrative socio-cultural material conveyed through critically acclaimed work and focusing primarily on exhilarating stunts and battles, charismatic lead actors, and downright silly fun. The amazing Jackie Chan has built a career through action-comedies with his incredibly unique vision for fight sequences and stunt work that made insurance companies weak at the knees. Similarly, Jason Statham’s The Transporter and Crank genre vehicles helped cement his role as action hero, while The Fast and The Furious has such popularity with its fast cars and overt machismo that a seventh sequel is currently planned.
Quick (퀵) aims to emulate such successes, featuring racing motorcycles, rogue police officers, and a race against time to stop the Machiavellian ne’er-do-well from exploding yet another building. However, the striking lack of originality, lack of charismatic leads, and general lack of comedy make Quick a forgettable viewing experience.
Han Gi-soo (Lee Min-ki (이민기) is a legendary biker gang leader, always in trouble with the law yet despite this dates the studious Choon-sim (Kang Ye-won (강예원). Caught kissing another girl, Gi-soo simply rides away but is pursued by Choon-sim who demands answers for his betrayal. During the chaos, the bikers cause several traffic accidents resulting in the destruction of a number of cars and lives lost. A few years later, Gi-soo works as a bike courier renowned for delivering packages in ultra-fast time. One afternoon Gi-soo is instructed to transport a person to a studio, which turns out to be Choon-sim who has re-invented herself as Ah-rom (아롬), a member of a Kpop girl group. Yet when she puts on her helmet, a bomb is triggered and a mysterious voice on a cell phone claims he will detonate if Gi-soo refuses to deliver packages to various recipients. In addition, Gi-soo is also tagged with a bracelet linked to Choon-sim’s helmet – if they are more than 10 meters away from each other, the bomb will also detonate. Gi-soo and Choon-sim are forced to work together to deliver all the packages in time and escape with their lives, as well as discovering why they were chosen for the task.
Director Jo Beom-goo (조범구) competently constructs and frames the action, filming multiple car pile-ups and explosions with confidence. The motorcycle stunts, despite the suspension of disbelief required, are thrilling and entertaining to watch as Gi-soo and Choon-sim jump over ramps, rooftops, and even over streets into nearby buildings as they avoid the fleet of police officers hunting them down and the fiery infernos that are left in their wake. To this end the editing must also be acknowledged as the rapid style adds excitement and conveys the speed of the race-against-time scenario. The same cannot be said for Park Su-jin’s (박수진) script which is overly convoluted featuring corporate espionage, gang warfare, and an ineffective police force. Overburdened with so many narrative tangents, and so many protagonists inaugurated to achieve those ends, the core plot of Quick quickly becomes submerged which detracts from the enjoyment of the over-the-top action spectacles. Quick (퀵) also blatantly ‘borrows’ gimmicky ideas and themes from other films of the genre, most notably The Transporter and The Fast and The Furious franchises, in a less-than-subtle attempt to become Hollywood fare. The reason such devices worked in prior films was due to their originality and the charisma of the actors involved, who clearly understood the tongue-in-cheek nature of their role. Quick unfortunately has neither.
While lead actor Lee Min-ki and actress Kang Ye-won are incredibly attractive, their performances leave little to be desired. The roles themselves are extremely limiting as they function as devices simply to move from one set piece to the next, but even so, Lee Min-ki is not convincing as an action star. His lack of physical prowess notwithstanding, the tough-guy street-savvy attitude and intimidating personality are noticeably absent with the singular – and unimpressive – fight scene doing very little to remedy the matter. Similarly Kang Ye-won’s role, in which she miraculously changes from teenage bookworm to Kpop superstar, is merely to complain, whine and scream throughout the narrative. But by far the most irritating protagonist is biker-turned-traffic cop Kim Myeong-sik, played by Kim In-kwon. While initially humourous, Myeong-sik quickly becomes aggravating due to recurring gags and his constant yelling for his unrequited love interest. It’s also puzzling as to why so many protagonists are deemed necessary, as the abundance of police officers, gangsters, and corrupt office workers severely impede the character development of the lead roles.
Quick is an enjoyable, albeit mediocre, action comedy. With some entertaining stunt work and fun set-pieces, Quick is a fast paced and – thanks to the lead actors – an attractive viewing experience. However the film is weighed down by excessive narrative tangents and protagonists, and the resulting lack of character development detracts from creating empathy with the leads and portraying the intensity of their situation. Despite these shortcomings, there are enough car and motorbike crashes, highway chases and explosions to keep fans of the genre happy.