Cops are trying to find out who or what is behind a series of murders, where each victim had seemingly been bitten. And how does it connect to the person who caught on fire after his belt buckle was triggered to explode? Jo Sang-gil brings a newly transfered female cop with him on the job.
Yeah, it's safe to say that South Korea has spoiled us with some brave, intelligent and highly elaborate thrillers. Many of which are looked upon as the very best the genre has to offer. So it's easy when you watch something South Korean that is not as unique, and that doesn't require you to invest yourself as much emotionally, that your reaction is that it's not a great movie. But fact is, even though "Howling" often shares a lot with things you'd see from Hollywood, I found something strong to hang on to in it.
The always fantastic (and amusing) Kang-ho Song stars as detective Jo Sang-gil who is working on a strange case: the victims seem to have been bitten, and in one case a man was bitten but then burned to death. The job is assigned to someone else, but he knows that there is something else to it and decides to investigate on his own. Or rather, he investigates with a newly transfered female detective, Cha Eun-young. They begin to find a connection between the kills, and also realize that whatever killed them was very precise - it always punctured specific points on the throats.
What follows is more or less what every other crime mystery offers: finding suspects, turns out they are not the right one or there is another one, etc. Without it really being a spoiler, the movie does carry an interesting tone because of the wolfdog that is being ordered to kill. You eventually really see the wolfdog as a character, and you identify with it more than some of the characters. The connection that grows between it and Cha Eun-young is also quite a sweet one. This is where the movie won me over emotionally. What started as a crime mystery that entertained me just enough, involving me about as much as needed to keep me, instead got me really interested in the reason behind the wolfdog, who is the owner, and finally the importance it ended up having to the movie. It's just one of those things that grab abold of a viewer simply because it's about a pet. That's something that sticks with people from early age and on-wards. Usually, at least.
There are quite a few good action sequences and such. It doesn't come off as over-the-top, but still what you'd expect from Korean films (you can expect a drop kick or two!). The cops are all very likable too, especially our two leads. Not to mention that the scenes where the wolfdog attacks are pretty damn intense and more well made than I had anticipated.
"Howling" doesn't stand out as a masterpiece. But a great cast, likable characters, good action scenes and an involving crime mystery is just enough. It's fun and intrigues you in different ways by the use of the wolfdog. Not to mention, that damn dog manages to be both terrifying and cute, so I'm sure it's popular with the ladies! Unless it's a lady dog. Although it could be a lesbian, right? Yeah, it's definitely gonna get busy with other lady dogs then, being all fierce and cute.
Too much? Meh, fine. "Howling" is not a werewolf movie, if you expect that then you're gonna be disappointed. But it is an entertaining cop movie!