‘Extreme Job’ is a film about detectives but it’s also a film about fried chicken.
The New York Asian Film Festival’s 2020 Winter Showcase takes place on Valentine’s Day weekend, marrying film and food in its theme: Love at First Bite. The festival’s selection features a few time-transcending classics, as well as some fun foodie films from recent years, and will close each day’s screenings with treats from some of New York City’s most enticing Asian restaurants.
For a satisfying starter, the festival opens with Extreme Job, the second highest grossing film of all time in Korea. The comedy focuses on the hopes of a team of hapless detectives, but it’s also a deliciously funny film about fried chicken.
In Extreme Job, Ryu Seung-ryong plays team leader Chief Go. The team includes Detectives Jang, played by Lee Honey; Young Ho, played by Lee Dong-hwi; Ma, played by Jin Seon-kyu, and Jae Hoon, played by Gong Myung.
Some serious mistakes have made the enthusiastic team the brunt of other detectives’ jokes. They get one more chance to salvage their reputation when they take over a sub-par fried chicken restaurant to stake out a drug operation across the street.
The problem is that customers keep showing up for chicken. To sustain the undercover operation, they decide to actually make chicken and find out that Detective Ma is really good at it. Their cover is so effective—and the chicken so delicious—it begins to interfere with their stake-out. The film will likely inspire moviegoers to eat some fried chicken and, fortunately, the festival agrees it’s a good idea.
After Extreme Job, moviegoers can sample a version of chimaek— Korea’s beloved combo of Korean style fried chicken and beer. For the festival, Koreatown’s popular BBQ Chicken Ktown will debut their brand new Galbi fried chicken to coincide with the film’s smash hit Suwon Galbi flavor. To expand the experience, the festival will add in some New York mainstays The Halal Guys and Chapati Man, throw in some chilled Hite beer, Jinro soju and makgeoli brewed by Makku.
“Having seen more than our fair share of Asian cinema, we’ve long observed its salient obsession with food and eating and how that underlines themes of humanity in multiple ways—from tragic to comic,” said David Wilentz, festival programmer. “So we knew an Asian food film event was a perfect idea.”
Other films in the 2020 Winter Showcase are Itami Juzo’s masterpiece, Tampopo; Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman; Stephen Chow’s The God of Cookery; the Indian box office phenomenon, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox; Chen Yu-hsun’s Zone Pro-Site: The Moveable Feast, and Tokiwa Shiro’s The First Supper. Each screening is complemented by a scrumptious menu that reflects the film’s culinary heritage.
“With the second Winter Showcase, we decided to continue to explore repertory programming in the most fun way possible—with a lineup that connects food and film, and shows that they transcend borders,” said Samuel Jamier, the festival’s executive director. “It’s a great occasion to relish different Asian food cultures, and the food itself. But for the more attentive viewers, it’s also an occasion to discover why cooking and eating are so central to so many Asian films. How they address themes of family, morality, mortality, ambition and finding one’s way through the crossed wires of building romantic connections.”
The festival takes place from Feb. 14 to 16 at Chelsea’s SVA Theatre.