My Wife Is A Gangster 2 (2006)
Director: Jeong Heung-sun
Writers: Choi Hae-cheol and Jeong Heung-sun
Starring: Shin Eun-Kyung, Park Jun Gyu and Jang Se-jin

The Plot: Our film mildly begins where My Wife Is A Gangster originally did, with Eun-jin continuing her role within the gang. Our film begins with her leading her scissor-gang in an epic battle along the top of a roof, where she inevitably gets knocked off and seemingly falls to her doom. When she thankfully lands on a trampoline and then a chicken coop – it seems her life has been saved. When she falls off the chicken truck, she is then picked up by a restaurant owner who takes her in and begins to look after her. Unfortunately she is unable to remember anything about her life, and so time passes and she takes on her new life as a food delivery woman. After a few years with this new “family” at the restaurant, she starts to find her muscles have not forgotten their physicality and before long she is using her fighting ability for a good use by taking on bank robbers and other crooks. When her exploits grab her some attention in the local media, this also brings upon the watchful eye of her enemies who immediately recognize her. Will Eun-jin remember her identity before it is too late?

The Review
When I first discovered the cinema of South Korea, it truly was like finding a breath of fresh air inside of the Asian cinema bubble. Within this market place I discovered a new mix of Hollywood-inspired films which featured big budget polish, but still retained those strikingly original ideas that had made Hong Kong and Japanese cinema such an adventure for me. One of the first genres that I had discovered was the South Korean rendition of the romantic comedy. Similar to their North American counterpart, in the fact that they also seem to have a direct connection to female visitors, the South Korean version can also feature aspects of any number of genres mixed in. Often I have found many of these films seem to target both male and female audiences, by including often-time crass humor as well as intense or violent action sequences. Such was the case with the original My Wife Is A Gangster, which featured both additions to the genre stereotypes. While this sequel ultimately does end up continuing the entertainment levels, it drops many of the fun genre devices that made it such a refreshing experience. What we are ultimately left with is a rather flawed, but still enjoyable, piece of action-comedy fluff.

As is the case with all sequels, fans of the original will want to know first and foremost how it continues on with the previous movie. In the case of My Wife Is A Gangster 2, in terms of continuity it is a mixed bag of sorts. Although many of the supporting cast from the original film do in fact show up, one of the most important cast members from the previous film is woefully absent. I am of course talking about the husband from the original film, who much of the first movie was based around. For those who missed the original, the entire premised focused on Eun-jin (Shin Eun-Kyung) trying to find a model husband in order to pacify her dying sister. She ultimately finds a dim-witted man, who the story then focuses on, and we watch as she tries to become more feminine in order to fit the role of a demure wife. Although this may be a spoiler of sorts, their relationship did not in fact end by the conclusion of the first movie. So his absence in this movie seems even more peculiar. Regardless, his role is ultimately filled in the form of “Boss” who is a character that basically plays the same role as was required by the husband in the first film. Still, fans of the first movie can take solace in the fact that although the original husband is missing, the movie does come across as faithful to the original in terms of style and character arches.

The film ultimately seems as if it were tailor made for Shin Eun-Kyung. Although the movie is generally less engaging than the first, I will say that the twists and turns that her character makes in this movie are far more interesting than I would have expected. As incredibly lame as the amnesia device is, within any film that uses it in a similar fashion, I am actually quite thankful for it in this case. Shin Eun-Kyung has the ability here to continue the series, but also play an entirely different character this time around. In losing her memory, the character of Eun-jin ultimately becomes a rather normal and complicit woman who deals with her problems without gritting her teeth or slapping the heads of all men around her. Her character also grows her hair out and becomes decidedly more attractive this time out. The masculine haircut is gone for the most part, and instead her character looks as if she just got back from the stylist, even when she does have her hair shortened. It is an interesting turn of events, even though it isn’t interesting enough to eliminate the bad taste we receive from the “amnesia” angle being pulled on us. In all honesty, you really don’t expect such a cliche plot device from a popular series such as this. You expect that sort of thing to be reserved exclusively for really bad sitcoms and television shows.

Classified as an action-comedy, these two aspects of the series are certainly a driving factor behind their popularity and are worthy of discussion. The action was always a great selling point for when it came to drawing in both sexes for the original movie. While it did contribute that “fish out of water” aesthetic, with Eun-jin having to beautify herself and act more girlie, the men in the audience could always rely on the brutal fight sequences that were spectacularly handled. Thankfully, even under the eye of a new director (Cho Jin-gyu directed the first film, Jeong Heung-sun directed this one), the action remains and is still pulled off in spectacular fashion. I will say that it seemed as if the original packed in more action amidst all of the comedy and melodrama, but the quality certainly seems substantial even if the quantity is. On the flip side of the coin, the comedy certainly seems like a step-down in my opinion. While the original movie worked well with its Pretty Woman concept, this sequel unfortunately relies on a much more bland form of situational comedy. While it is interesting to see Shin Eun-Kyung actually contribute to the slapstick comedy, unfortunately this removes our “straight man” and as such the movie seems to degenerate into unstructured silliness at times. There are some laughs to be had, but a lot of the jokes go way over the top and occasionally become groan inducing.

The Conclusion
My Wife Is A Gangster 2 isn’t a terribly bad sequel. Where I would have likely given the original film a solid four out of five stars, I think this one gets dropped down by a point. I give the movie an overall three out of five, because despite my reservations I still managed to have a good time with the movie. It is a bit on the clumsy side, but it could have been far worse. If you’re a fan of the original, I would say it is worth searching out.