‘The Policeman’s Lineage’ Review: Choi Woo-shik Can’t Save This Thriller From Being Too Generic

The Policeman's Lineage

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Being able to achieve originality is one of the biggest challenges that any artist has to face in this day and age. There are just so many movies, books, and video games out there that to find one work that can mix its influences and everything that has come previously in a new and fresh way, seems almost impossible. It might not be, but the genuinely exceptional works are very few and far between.

Only the real masterpieces seem to be able to achieve a level of quality that makes them stand out almost immediately from their peers. But, is there a way to achieve that sort of level consistently? The answer is no. If there were a proper way to achieve that quality every single time, bad movies would not exist. To achieve that would only mean that a new level of mediocrity has been achieved.

So, when a new movie arrives with a lot of hype behind it, and with what appears to be, all the elements that make for a good movie, and yet, that movie fails to do anything remarkable. We come face to face with how hard it is to make art. The Policeman’s Lineage is precisely that kind of movie. A film that has every single thing in its favor, and nevertheless, fails to do anything interesting with its resources. The Policeman’s Lineage isn’t bad, but it is quite mediocre.

The Policeman's Lineage

The Policeman’s Lineage is a film directed by Kyu-maan Lee and stars Choi Woo-shik, Cho Jin-woong, and Hee-soon Park. The film tells the story of a young policeman called Choi Min-jae. Min-jae belongs to a family of cops, and his sense of duty and justice is quite defined. He is then ordered to start investigating a member of their police department, Park Kang-yoon, a policeman at the border between the police and the criminals. As Min-jae works with Kang-yoon he discovers that justice isn’t black or white, but a lot of grays.

The Policeman’s Lineage is a classic tale of police corruption. We are introduced to the young and naive rookie who has a very strong sense of justice. Later, we are also introduced to the jaded veteran who is willing to go outside the lines of the law to catch the bad guys that are worse than he. We have seen this story played out countless times, both on TV, in movies, and books. Unfortunately, The Policeman’s Lineage doesn’t do anything new with it.


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In defense of the movie, the film boasts an amazing cast of actors. For example, Woo-shik will be easily recognizable by worldwide audiences thanks to his work in Parasite and Train To Busan. Meanwhile, Jin-woong is just one of the most prolific actors in South Korea, and his work is always solid. This pair should be popping out of the screen in every scene, but for some reason, the movie decides to focus on other aspects instead of properly developing the characters.

The Policeman’s Lineage feels the need to create a very convoluted plot that adds new twists and turns every five minutes. Loyalties exchange places almost in every scene, the characters plan strange and overcomplicated plans that are executed by the grace of the script, and there are countless scenes solely dedicated to explaining what is happening. And yet, it would not be rare to say that The Policeman’s Lineage is just a very confusing movie.

The Policeman's Lineage

The movie keeps this focus on its confusing plot for the entirety of its two hours of runtime. As the movie ends, it tries finally to give the characters some sort of development, as it tries to do some sort of twist that falls flat on its face. This is the big problem of the movie. It is so focused on being complicated that it forgets characters are important so that the audience can find some sort of connection to the story, and also make the story matter to them.

The movie rushes during its last ten minutes to create a relationship that should have been created right at the beginning of the movie. The ending feels so out of tune with the rest of the movie that it seems to lead into some other franchise. It is very strange. The actors do what they can, and they recite their lines with energy and conviction, but it is frustrating that we don’t know them. So anything they say just lacks potency and importance in the story.

Taking something familiar and just doing it the same way everybody else does, is a clear sign that the director, Kyu-maan Lee, lacked a vision for the movie he was making. Imprinting their signature and particular point of view is the only thing that would make movies with stories like this worthwhile to watch. Without the vision, The Policeman’s Lineage stands as a movie full of clichés. A movie that you have seen many times before.

From the visual style of the film to the music and the overplayed twists and turns, The Policeman’s Lineage falls into mediocrity. The film is not offensive, but there is no reason to watch it unless you’re a huge fan of the actors, or maybe if you have not seen a movie like this ever before. There are many other great examples where this story is done well in other movies and TV shows. It would be best to just watch those instead.

SCORE: 5/10

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