Kidnapping Granny K (권순분 여사 납치사건, Kim Sang-jin: 2007)

A gang of petty thieves decide to pull off kidnapping in order to get their hands on some big money. Their target is a local woman by the name of Mrs Kwon – an elderly self-made millionaire who has made her fortune with her secret recipes and cookery skills. What seems to be the simplest plan becomes very complicated very quickly as they find they’ve underestimated the elderly lady…

It’s pretty much a case of ‘what you see is what you get’ with this caper comedy from director Kim Sang-jin (Attack The Gas Station), Kidnapping Granny K (also known by the longer title of Mission Possible: Kidnapping Granny K) gives us a silly premise, some broad humour and a lively sense of fun – but unfortunately it’s a case of just as many of the gags missing the target as those that hit.

With a plot that could be written on the back of a stamp – or maybe even half a stamp – Kidnapping Granny K starts quickly enough but takes a short while to find its feet. Clearly set up as a show-piecee around actress Nah Moon-hee, this story of a bumbled kidnapping struggles to make even the obvious laughs work as our gang of incompetent petty criminals find that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. After a great animated opening sequence, we launch into the kidnapping itself, which is hopelessly staged – both plotwise and cinematically – and Kidnapping Granny K immediately feels like it’s going to be a tough viewing.

Luckily, once it eventually finds its feet – about twenty minutes in – Kidnapping Granny K starts getting some laughs. Maybe it’s a case of trying too hard from the outset, but after the ‘hilarious’ bumbled kidnapping and the ‘laugh out loud’ idea that this small criminal gang could be pushed around by a demanding little old lady, it settles into a nice relationship comedy with some more gentle laughs and some amusing plot twists. This is by no means taxing stuff – and there’s still a little too much pantomime theatrics to make the comedy and the plot gel properly in anyway or form – but several key ideas, such as Grannys rich children who care more about their money than their mother, or Park Sang-myeon’s unstoppable cop, work well. Nah Moon-hee character here may appear hilarious to Korean audiences but this doesn’t really come across as a clever or original take on this type of character. Nah Moon-hee chooses to whine and shout her way through her lines giving the character the feel of a one-note joke. It’s down to Yoo Geon, Kang Seong-jin and Yoo Hae-jin to add some spark to proceedings – and while it’s safe to say that the effort is there, they’re still a little tied down by an unnecessarily confused script. One performance worth mentioning – again it’s really just another one-note joke, but at least this time it’s funny – is Park Jeon-myeon. I won’t reveal why it’s so funny (although she’s in the trailer which spoils things a little bit), but given a few more off-beat ideas like this and Kidnapping Granny K might have been a more interesting prospect.

Over on the production side of things, director Kim Sang-jin tries his damnedest to make the whole thing work as a slick, fast moving affair. The cinematography is largely average but – like the film as a whole – displays the odd spark of ingenuity, such as the great reaction shots of faces which are covered by giant costumes. Sadly even the soundtrack (which sounds like it’s been torn from a Michael Bay blockbuster) and some snappy editing fail to create too much of a sense of either scale or urgency.

There’s a lot going on within Kidnapping Granny K and it’s a real shame that more of it doesn’t work. The occasional moment of originality shines against the work-man attitude of the rest of it resulting in a  hit and miss affair which feels both rushed and underdeveloped. It’s certainly not the worst comedy you could pick up or kill a couple of hours with, but sadly it struggles to even register as memorable and remains distinctly average.

권순분 여사 납치사건 (Kidnapping Granny K)
Directed by Kim Sang-jin
Produced by Kim Sang-jin, Lee Baek-dong
Written by Lee In
Starring Nah Moon-hee, Yoo Geon, Kang Seong-jin, Yoo Hae-jin, Park Jeon-myeon, Park Sang-myeon

Kidnapping Granny K Image © Directors Another Sunday Co. Ltd