5 user 13 critic

Tamjung Hong Gil-dong: Sarajin Ma-eul (2016)

PG-13 | | Action, Crime, Drama | 20 May 2016 (USA)
1:00 | Trailer
HONG Gildong is an infallible private detective with an exceptional memory and quirky personality. While chasing the only target he failed to find, he gets entangled in a much bigger conspiracy than he bargained for.


Sung-hee Jo
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Lee Jehoon ... Hong Gil-dong (as Je-hoon Lee)
Seong-gyoon Kim ... Kang Seong-il
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ara Go ... President Hwang
Bo-ra Hwang Bo-ra Hwang
Sung-hwa Jung Sung-hwa Jung ... Innkeeper
Joon-hyuk Lee ... Real estate agency boss (as Joon Hyuk Lee)
Sang-hee Lee Sang-hee Lee ... Mother of Hong Gil-dong
Jung-Hee Nam Jung-Hee Nam ... Shop grandmother
Geun-hyeong Park Geun-hyeong Park ... Kim Byeong-deok
Geun-Su Won Geun-Su Won ... Corpulent Hwalbindang outlaw
Learn more

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Private detective HONG Gil-dong is seeking revenge for his mother who was murdered in front of him when he was a child. An investigation determines that the assailant is a man named Kim, but when he arrives at the Kim's house, he finds only the man's grandchildren who tell him that their grandfather was kidnapped. Hong tracks down the vicious kidnapper with help from the grandchildren, but senses that he is not acting alone. The mastermind is the notorious leader of a massive cult - a man with a terrifying, bloody secret in his hands. Now, Hong decides to face him once and for all. Written by CJ Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

neo noir | See All (1) »


PG-13 | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


The walkie talkie used in the first scene is the same walkie talkie used in the drama "Signal" which shares the same written. See more »

User Reviews

This is the kind of film that Hollywood does not like to make nowadays
13 February 2017 | by ebossertSee all my reviews

Note: Check me out as the "Asian Movie Enthusiast" on YouTube, where I review tons of Asian movies.

Our protagonist (a detective, of course) works day-to-day to track down missing persons. One day, he finally finds the man who murdered his mother (when he was a child), but the murderer gets kidnapped and the detective must track down the criminals responsible. At the same time, however, he is forced to watch over two little girls (the murderer's grandchildren) who are tagging along for the ride. Unfortunately, the kidnappers work for a shadowy organization that has no qualms about eliminating anyone who stands in their way.

This movie has a very noir-ish feel to it, with a lot of investigation that leads our protagonist from place to place as he narrates his thoughts. He even wears the old school detective hat and coat, which gives him a classical look. The lead actor is Je-hoon Lee, who previously starred in "Bleak Night" and appeared in "The Front Line" (both of which are very good movies, by the way). "The Phantom Detective" provides even more evidence that this guy can legitimately carry a movie. He does a good job of portraying a man who is proficient at his job, but is still vulnerable and can get in over his head.

The dynamic between him and the girls is somewhat unorthodox. However, it's also endearing because the kids don't immediately know that he wants to take revenge on their grandfather, but they do figure out fairly early on that he is a habitual liar – and this gives some leeway for the filmmakers to pepper in some humorous exchanges of dialogue between them. In addition, one of the girls breaks out a notepad and takes down information while he questions people, almost as if she were a detective herself. This is entertaining stuff that safely avoids the "annoying little kid" cliché that can really hurt a movie. So basically, there are no weak points when considering the acting in this movie – everyone holds their own.

In terms of action – there are a handful of gun battles and fist fights, none of which are graphically violent, but they do have a hard-hitting feel to them that adds a weight and danger to everything. The action design has a "higher octane" feel to it, without the need for going over the top or chucking in cartoonish set pieces. Everything is grounded here, and that's important in this case due to the tone and type of film we're dealing with. Sure, we have three likable leads, but there are some dangerous people in this movie. One such person is the main bad guy, who makes multiple appearances throughout as he stalks the protagonists. And let me tell you, he's one tough son-of-a-gun too. Now, I won't spoil the ending for you, but what I will say is that it's very satisfying.

There are a few stylistic flourishes that are used for the buildings and environments at times, which utilize some artificial visuals. I know some critics have complained a bit about these particular special effects, but I thought it was a neat idea that gave this film some charm. You know, I have to say, "The Phantom Detective" feels like something that would have come out of U.S. during the 1990s. This is the kind of movie that Hollywood doesn't like to make anymore. And I definitely recommend it.

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Official Sites:

Official Site [South Korea]


South Korea



Release Date:

20 May 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Phantom Detective See more »

Filming Locations:

Seoul, South Korea


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,804, 15 May 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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