I’ve seen Park Seo Jun (Fight for My Way) and Kang Ha Neul (Scarlet Heart Ryeo) star in Korean dramas before but this is the first time I’ve actually seen any of their movies — or the two of them star in anything together (except for that hilarious episode of Running Man where they failed their mission because they wouldn’t trust Kwangsoo). They have great chemistry, these two, which made Midnight Runners a good buddy comedy.
Synopsis: Park Seo Jun (Ki Jun) and Kang Ha Neul (Hee Yeol) are two polar opposite characters who meet at the police academy and become unlikely friends. Ki Jun is dirt poor, kind and great at the physical aspects of the training while Hee Yeol is the son of a meat shop owner and is a bit of a nerd. On their rare night off, they try to meet a pretty girl they see on the street but becomes a witness to her kidnapping instead. With the critical hours ticking away and the actual police force busy with a major case, the duo must do everything in their power to save the girl before they have to go back to school.
I liked Midnight Runners because it was more than a buddy comedy, as it was initially marketed by the studio. The movie wasn’t just about getting the laughs, although there were plenty to be had because of this duo’s antics.
Like most Korean movies, at the core of this film was a central message that would have audiences thinking, what was the right thing to do for these two students who only tried to do what they were taught? And that’s where the film actually gets you — when you start to question what the right thing thing actually was.
The chase scenes were exciting and as a viewer, I admit that I got tired watching these guys run around all night following the very little leads they had because they had no access to anything from the law enforcement units. I got tired from seeing them get beat up by hordes of gangsters too and worried for their safety because they had no plan and no weapons to deal with these criminals. Yet, I laud the film for keeping it realistic and not giving these two excessive skills to win over the goons straight away. They bled, they broke their bones, they wounded their pretty faces and they dealt with a lot of frustrations as they tried to go about the system to save the victims. However, despite all the chaos, the movie succeeded in giving the two lead characters a lot of heart so even if they were the underdogs, they had the audiences solidly behind them the entire time. (kudos to director Kim Joo Hwan)
Park Seo Jun and Kang Ha Neul were excellent for their roles because they had great charisma to pull off the serious and comedic parts of their role. (And yes, for those who would like to ask, there is a fan service scene where Seo Jun trains without his shirt on). They also portrayed their polar opposite characters quite well and seemed to have a great relationship off cam too. Sung Dong Il can play a villain or a good guy effortlessly and in this film, as Professor Kang, I was really touched with how he was able to maintain his professionalism the whole time as he tried to steer the boys to do the right thing.
All in all, Midnight Runners involved a lot of running, brawling, mystery and ethical questions. It will definitely take the audience on a roller coaster ride for its over an hour run. With characters that are rootable and relatable, you can’t help but feel invested in the outcome of their accidental mission. It was well paced and it had a lot of heart. And while its ending was generic, you can’t help but be happy to have at least seen this movie. It was fun.