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The Phantom Detective

Quebec Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2016
  • 125 mins
  • DCP
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection: Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival 2016

“A dazzling, spooky, sometimes comic revenge tale” – Tom Keogh, SEATTLE TIMES

The Phantom Detective from Festival Fantasia on Vimeo.

Hong Gil-dong is a private investigator with almost no recollection of his own childhood. The only thing he remembers is his mother’s death, and the face of her killer. He’s determined to apprehend the man responsible. And he believes that man is Kim Byung-duk. Unfortunately, just as Hong is on the verge of capturing his prey, Kim is kidnapped by Gwangeunhae, a mysterious organization that exists only in the shadows. The young detective must make use of all his formidable investigative talents to find his sworn enemy. Luckily for him, he’ll have the help of Kim’s two granddaughters, who see hima as their grandfather’s saviour. What the two young women can’t imagine is how very different from theirs Hong’s intentions are…

Jo Sung-hee (A WEREWOLF BOY) delivers a devilish mélange of film noir and action flick with his modern revisiting of Korean literary hero Hong Gil-dong. While keeping the hero’s Robin Hood side intact, he colours Hong a bit darker as a hard-boiled, ruthless detective. The role is handled in grand style by Lee Je-hoon, discovered by many in the 2011 Fantasia selection BLEAK NIGHT. Lee crafts an engaging persona for the iconic antihero, guiding him through a panoply of emotions. The brilliantly woven script is a roller-coaster ride through comedy, action, suspense and surprising tenderness, revealing its twists and turns patiently while presenting a parade of fascinating characters. The action scenes explode with a powerful rhythm, right up to the final confrontation amid a storm of bullets. THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE is Lee’s first film since he finished his military service, and it will immediately be obvious why it’s such an auspicious return.

— Éric S. Boisvert