Hi Dharma 2: Showdown in Seoul (2004)

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2004, Cineworld/Tiger Pictures/KM Culture

Director:
Yook Sang-Hyo
Producers:
Cho Chul-Hyun
Jung Seung-Hye
Writers:
Choi Seok-Hwan
Yook Sang-Hyo
Cinematography:
Park Hee-Ju
Editing:
Kim Sang-Beom
Kim Jae-Beom

Cast:
Jung Jin-Young (Jeong-Myeong)
Shin Hyun-Joon (Beom-Shik)
Lee Won-Jong (Hyeong-Gak)
Lee Moon-Sik (Dae-Bong)
Yang Jin-Woo (Moo-Jin)
Kim Seok-Hwan (Sang-Geun)
Lee Hyung-Chul (Goo-Man)
Kim Ji-Young (Elder Bosal)
Jung Han-Yong (Mr. Park)
Han Hye-Jin (Mi-Seon)
Park Shin-Yang (Jae-Gyu)

In this sequel to the 2001 hit comedy that pitted gangsters against monks, the head monk from that film takes some of his fellow monks to Seoul, where chaos is destined to ensue.

With the recent passing of the head monk at their temple, monks Jeong-Myeong and Hyeong-Gak, along with the silent Dae-Bong, learn that their master wants them to deliver a package to Mushim Temple in Seoul. It will be their first contact outside of their temple in years. Their first night there, things do not go as planned when they are kicked out of a local motel. They eventually do reach the temple and find themselves about to be in for a shock.

The next morning, Mushim monk Moo-Jin informs the trio that the Temple is owed a debt of 500 million won to a local construction company led by Beom-Shik, a former gangster who is trying to go legit. Beom-Shik gives the monks three days to raise the money at first but then during a service, takes their collection box, forcing them to be unable to collect the money to pay the debt. When Dae-Bong plays the lottery and wins the 30 billion won prize, but he misplaces the receipt. Even worse, Beom-Shik and his men are determined to make sure the temple is torn down. The monks, having dealt with gangsters before, wage war to ensure the safety of the temple.

The first Hi, Dharma was a hilarious action-comedy that pitted gangsters and monks at a local temple where the gangsters hid out. What helped that film was the chemistry between the lead gangster and the senior monk. For this sequel, it’s now the reverse as we see our senior monk Jyeon-Myeong, reprised by Jung Jin-Young with fellow returnees Lee Won-Jong and Lee Moon-Sik now going to Seoul and having to save the temple there from a new batch of gangsters, led by Shin Hyun-Joon. Original star Park Shin-Yang makes a cameo appearance in his role of now former gangster Jae-Kyu, who now runs a food stall and offers little help to Jyeon-Myeong.

Shin Hyun-Joon’s Beom-Shik is truly trying to go legit but finds himself using means from his past to get his way. However, he has the tendency to berate his cohorts for calling him “boss” and acting all slovenly. Along with that, Lee Moon-Sik’s silent monk Dae-Bong provides much of the film’s comedy due to his only using body language and in the case where he tries to tell his fellow monks he won the lottery, he is mistaken for having a panic attack. Eventually, despite the ongoing rivalry between the two groups, one can guess that if they have seen the original film, they will know how this will turn out.

Hi Dharma 2: Showdown in Seoul is a quite a decent sequel that now reverses the theme with the monks’ fish out of water story in the big city. Some funny comedy by Lee Moon-Sik and the ongoing war between the monks and gangsters has a nice pace to it. This is one sequel worthy of Buddha.

WFG RATING: A-

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