Last time, Inspector Ryoo learned that he has some sort of connection to the mysterious online personality that may have masterminded Yeong-joo’s murder of her father and then her subsequent suicide. Inspector Ryoo also unlocked a memory suggesting he might have murdered his own father. But “Bad and Crazy” takes an intriguing approach to these shocking events by asking an important question- how does Inspector Ryoo know these memories are real?
The impermanence and the unreliability of memory is a well-known phenomenon, despite the fact that most people assume otherwise. Indeed, the idea that our memories must be accurate, and that we can’t remember things that didn’t happen, is essential to the structure of most crime procedurals. So “Bad and Crazy” puts itself in an awkward position by defying this genre standard. How does Inspector Ryoo know if anything is real, if he can’t trust his own memories?
This question is delayed as solid detective work makes up most of the runtime here. Well, mostly solid detective work. In one goofy sequence Patrolman Oh and Detective Yang manages to completely screw up a simple tailing operation in completely different ways. But for the most part Inspector Ryoo’s instincts are well utilized. He follows the line of sight to what little physical evidence there is and uses that to uncover a very small part of a larger conspiracy with terribly murky motives.
There’s the unsettling implication that K, the seeming manifestation of Inspector Ryoo’s conscience, may be something else entirely run amuck. K becomes a pathetic yet sympathetic ghost, in part because he’s simply not useful anymore. By not trying to run away from his battles, Inspector Ryoo no longer needs a bodyguard to protect him. Well, in one sense he kind of does, given the episode’s conclusion- even if Inspector Ryoo is the one behaving in an unambiguously heroic manner.
“Bad and Crazy” remains a solid procedural, one that’s making good use of its established backstory even if we’ve yet to see any real emotional punches. This is more because of the continuing haze of mystery rather than anything else. It’s not until the cliffhanger that Inspector Ryoo finally gets a vision of just what it was he really forgot when his father died. Inspector Ryoo’s lack of emotional upheaval may have been a coping mechanism, leading him deeper into corruption- but K would rather bully Inspector Ryoo into being a good person than explain just why that is.
Review by William Schwartz
“Bad and Crazy” is directed by Yoo Seon-dong, written by Kim Sae-bom, and features Lee Dong-wook, Wi Ha-joon, Han Ji-eun, Cha Hak-yeon, Kang Ae-shim, Kim Dae-gon. Broadcasting information in Korea: 12/17/2021~Now airing, Fri, Sat 22:40 on tvN.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema’s travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea’s public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
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