Director Oh Young-do’s hard-boiled sci-fi detective comedy involves among other things: a time traveling client, a sinister killer who jams watches into his victims’ eye sockets, and a debt-ridden private eye with a cybernetic hand. Our hero, Young Gun (Hong Young-geun) finds more than he bargained for when he goes looking for a missing watch and so do we in this independent gem from South Korea.
It all starts when museum researcher Song-hyun (Choi Song-Hyeon) walks through the doors of the Young Gun Detective Agency, here eyes hidden behind a large pair of aviator shades, her hand bleeding. She says she needs help finding a missing watch. Young Gun wants to help the dame, but his landlady, who doubles as his secretary, will only let him take on jobs that will pay off his massive back rent, and a crazy woman talking about time travel and murdered archaeologists won’t pay the bills. But when Song-hyun is kidnapped and killed in a car crash, Young Gun’s on the case–doubly so when he goes to find out more about her job, discovering that the dead Song-hyun might have been from two days in the future.
Everything you need to know about Young Gun (and the movie), you can pick up in his first scenes where the “no job is too small” detective takes on the case of a missing stag beetle. The case is a little odd, gets stranger still, but only through determination does our hero solve it. Plus, he’s got a very distinctive look with his collection of rumpled Hawaiian shirts, one hand in a leather glove, a thin mustache, and a mop of frizzy brown hair. And like Young Gun, the limitations of the movie’s low budget don’t keep it from producing a couple of well-staged fights, and some clever tricks with time travel all inside of a plot that just pops right along while making you care for Young Gun and Song-hyun.
Sure, there’s a search montage in the middle of the movie that runs a little long and cheaps out by having the film’s lead walk in front of a green screen, and I’m not entirely sure where a key pile of money comes from (or frankly, how the whole time travel loop works here), but the between Young Gun’s dedication and simple decency and Song-hyun’s tough-headedness, you want to hang with these characters and see things turn out okay for them.
“Young Gun in the Time” screened as part of Fantastic Fest 2012. The next screening is Thursday, September 27th at 5:45 PM. Check the Fantastic Fest schedule for ticketing and info.