In the testosterone-soaked world of Korean crime dramas, Han Jun-hee’s Hit-and-Run Squad puts a refreshing female spin on its story of police corruption and professional motor-racing, only to lose its nerve on the final lap.
After the critical success of Han’s female-driven indie Coin Locker Girl, the film follows internal affairs officer Eun Shi-yeon (Gong Hyo-jin) as she is demoted to the low-stakes hit-and-run division, following a botched attempt to expose her corrupt police commissioner (Yoo Yeon-soo) for taking bribes.
The bribes are coming from by JC Motors boss and F1 champion Jung Jae-chul (Cho Jung-seok), who is also implicated in a deadly traffic collision. Eun’s plan is to crack that case and close the net on her suspect, but to do that, she must work with oddball traffic cop Suh Min-jae (Ryu Jun-yeol).
Suggestions that Hit-and-Run Squad might be the Korean answer to the Fast and Furious franchise are quickly dismissed. Despite the motorsports setting and proliferation of high-octane vehicles, the film refuses to shift its procedural plot into anything approaching top gear. Even its climactic car chase, as Jung and Suh square off in customised performance cars, plays out at a laughably pedestrian pace.
What Hit-and-Run Squad does offer is a plethora of nuanced female characters representing more than simple eye candy or emotional ballast. Gong’s frustrated career cop must balance a complicated professional life with an equally unfulfilling romance to Son Sukku’s public prosecutor, but capably assumes control of both situations.
Similarly, her superior officers, both before and after her transfer, are also women (Yum Jung-ah and Jeon Hye-jin). They are played with conflicting methods, but discernible competency. Alongside these strong, capable women, the myriad flaws and idiosyncrasies of their male counterparts are only further amplified.
Jung is a stuttering, self-entitled sociopath with a brittle ego, while Suh stumbles obliviously along the Asperger’s spectrum, disregarding standard operating procedure at every turn. Yoo’s shady commissioner character, meanwhile, is nothing more than a pompous bully.
Unfortunately, Han’s applaudable efforts to subvert gender norms are scuppered in the final act. In a sudden crisis of confidence over its heroine, the film thrusts an overwrought and wholly unnecessary backstory upon Suh to justify following him on a baffling and contrived revenge arc. Eun and her original investigation are all but sidelined as a result. Talk about a hit and run.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars