Mokpo The Harbor

Reviewed by: sukting

May 09, 2009

Rating: three

Mokpo The Harbour is a gangster comedy. Will you be able to accept 2 serious actors as comedians here?

How long
1 hour 30 minutes

Jo Jae-hyeon - Lee Soo-chol
Cha In-Pyo - Baek Sung-ki
Song Seon-mi - Im Ja-kyung
Son Byung-ho - Doo-ho


Detective Lee Soo-chul is Sherlock Holmes at the civil petitions office. His wits in solving cases are superb but he lacks agility in action. He always gets beaten up by the gangsters instead of catching them successfully. But because he is smart, Soo-chul is allowed to stay despite his colleagues’ protests. But this stubborn man insists of tagging along for every mission to ruin them.

He sees Ja-kyung at the lift landing area. Assuming her to be a rookie, he nags to her about the difficulties of being a cop. He boasts of the wound his face of getting it while chasing after criminals. In reality, he has lost to another boxer right after a blow in the ring. The beginning prepares us on how he gets ready for the match by putting on his gloves and shoes. But he is knocked out immediately and the referee claims that he is the first whom he sees to get defeated so fast.

There is once the team needs to go after a mad pervert. Soo-chul is supposed to observe the surroundings but ends up being the pervert’s hostage. During the struggle, the pervert breaks free and escapes. Soo-chul falls to the ground and a pool of blood is seen beside him. His colleagues crowd around him, asking anxiously where he is hurt.

They touch his belly – to discover the protection vest. Their sergeant then yells that he is the one hurt. His arm is injured and blood is dripping. All grumble when they return to the station. They blame him for the escape so he tries to make amends.

Soo-chul analyses that since the pervert has no clothes on, he must be running hastily to get clothes. He is last seen in a flowery shirt, red pants and polka dot shoes. Judging from his route, he should be running to his girlfriend. You will crack up at the next scene. To make sure that he doesn’t hinder them, they handcuff him to a chair and speed off! They are pleased to nap the criminal back without his hinderance.

Soo-chul discovers that the woman he meets is actually Prosecutor Im Ja-kyung. She is in Seoul, wanting to break up the Mokpo gang. Unable to put up with his colleagues' insults, he goes on an undercover mission to Mokpo to prove himself as a capable detective. His colleagues try in vain to dissuade him as they do not want him to risk his life.

Soo-chul becomes a gangster under the name ‘Nam Ki-nam’ to get into the Sung-ki Family, a criminal ring linked to a huge drug deal. But he has to be vary of many people. The captain of the homicide department wants to catch him. There is also the Stingray Family seeking revenge on the Sung-ki Family.

While training to be a member of the ring, he tries to get attention. He gets picked as a boxer representing the Sung-ki Family. He knocks out the opponent and becomes famous overnight. Laugh when he endures their hits after they lose when they carry him to hit the large bell in the park premises. This is how Sung-ki gets impressed and he becomes his right-hand man.

Another sacrifice he needs to make is to go to bed with a plump woman. This woman has a land deed which Sung-ki needs for expansion. Poor him has to make this move. All are delighted when he gets the deed. He is the only one looking dejected, his face full of her lipstick kisses. The deed not only has the woman’s signature but also her red lip mark too.

Soo-chul runs into another problem. Sung-ki sees him contacting Ja-kyung at a cafe. Caught off guard but now with more experience, Soo-chul tells him quickly she is his sister. She quickly feigns that her name is Tae-young after seeing a waitress’s name tag and works at the caferia as a waitress. Soo-chul is living in a lavish apartment, forgetting at times that he’s an undercover cop. He has a brotherly bond with Sung-ki.

Both men get drunk one day and pee in the back lane. A group of hawkers come, demanding to know what they are doing there. Soo-chul sweats for the onlookers, knowing that they have offended his boss. But getting drunk means that Sung-ki will be a good mood that he forgives them. But the other party doesn’t forgive them and they come with a big group, chasing after them. They escape with ease and become even closer.

Sung-ki falls in love with Ja-kyung on first sight, while Ja-kyung has a crush on Soo-chul.(which is totally unbelievable and unacceptable.) Sung-ki’s face turns red and starts missing Ja-kyung. Sung-ki dislikes coffee but finds excuses to go to the café to try to see her. Soo-chul is puzzled when he doesn’t wish his secretary to brew coffee for him and he even cites that Soo-chul is hardly a romantic. She then needs to be there occassionally as not to blow her cover.

Ja-kyung is even requested by Soo-chul to replace a hooker, where she ends up in the arms of a gangster from the Stingray family. (However, I dispprove of the idea of a virgin being forced to have sex by a gangster just like that.) Luckily, her wits save her from that torture and gets more evidence.

The two parties are after a sunken ship which is full of drugs. Sung-ki has a soft spot for romantic movies and enjoys watching them at the beach. The Stingray family has 3 men trying to assassinate him. Two hide underground, waiting for their chance. They breathe through straws that are seen above ground. Their signal to attack will be by the signal given by the third man who pretends to be a hawker bringing sauce noodles to Sung-ki.

The sand is soft and the chair keeps sliding down so both men struggle to keep it upright. Sung-ki gets engrossed in watching and throws his cigarette down. It ends up getting through the straw and the poor victim nearly swallows it! Upon hearing the signal, both charge up – to discover that they are completely surrounded. Sung-ki has been wary of them all along and their plan fails.

Sung-ki is thinking of retiring, which his men disapprove. They still need and want money desperately. A conspiracy against Sung-ki is brewing but he doesn’t see it coming. Doo-ho, Sung-ki's righthand man starts the rebellion because he wants to start the drug business which is against Sung-ki’s will.

Doo-ho destroys the Stingray family and commands a big following as the others worship him. Sung-ki is attacked and betrayed by the one he trusted the most. Soo-chul sees Sung-ki's kind nature and decides to reveal his true identity to prove Sung-ki’s innocence to the police. Sung-ki is upset over the two betrayals and refuses to forgive him. Soo-chul remains beside Sung-ki and slowly gets his forgiveness.

The final showdown has both of them facing the other members at the harbour, where the ship is found. Both men fight with their bare fists to emerge as the winner. Doo-ho has to admit defeat. Ja-kyung and her men come to get the ship out to retrieve the drugs. She congratulates Soo-chul on his success.

So Soo-chul is finally able to complete his mission and be regarded as a true detective by his team. The ending has him running after the same pervert with his colleagues and bashing him up. The final scene has he and Ja-kyung strolling on the beach with a girl. Sung-ki comes along and the girl addresses him as father. Soo-chul walks away alone, indicating that the couple is happily married.

Sung-ki later enjoys a movie at the beach with his family. It has the detectives displaying photo slides on him and Soo-chul. They want to plant a spy into his gang. After seeing how glamourous Soo-chul’s life has become, all flock to their chief, requesting to be the mole, fighting with each other. This is so unlike the earlier scene when all push the opportunity to others.


This is the first time I see the two actors letting their hair down. They are drop-dead hilarious. Throughout the 1.5h, I keep laughing non-stop. The storyline is silly but both of them are obviously having fun. Many will be tickled to the ground upon seeing how Sung-ki gets so delighted to meet his gal that he jumps into the air like a clown. And my, how can Soo-chul be capable to keep a straight face when speaking the comical lines?

It is hard to convince how an idiot suddenly commands such high respect from the underworld. But you will marvel at the change in Jo Jae-hyeon. He is initially very simply dressed in normal sneakers and simple t-shirts. After becoming a gangster, his wardrobe becomes extensive and the business suits are tailor-made. His hair is also well-gelled to show that he has ‘class’ now.

In-Pyo is quite comical here as the mobster. He has the commanding air when he stands out. But when coming to be in front of the woman he loves, he behaves like an immature boy and doesn’t know how to do. The movie has lots of twists and turns. Credits must be given to the two actors who provide us such great entertainment.

Song Seon-mi is considered only a vase as she hardly has a major part in this movie. She doesn’t help much in the development too. The seducing scene is totally redundant. It only proves to let Soo-chul to become the hero to help him to gain more success. If you can overlook the nonsensical parts and only wish to watch a comedy, the movie is just right for you.

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