Korean action thriller film “The Policeman’s Lineage” is fine enough within the realms of these two genres, but it also introduces drama and fails to deliver in that aspect. Starring Choi Woo-Sik of “Parasite” fame, it presents the story of a young police officer given the responsibility of going undercover to investigate a much more senior and celebrated police chief. While it holds on to the excitement and charm expected to be found in a thriller for the most part, “The Policeman’s Lineage” somehow misses out on the deep feelings and connections that it tries to establish between the two men.
‘The Policeman’s Lineage’ Plot Summary
Choi Min-jae is a young police officer without much experience in the profession, still unaware of the moral loopholes of the police job. A case in which his partner detective had physically assaulted a suspect is soon put up for court trial, and Choi is summoned as a witness to testify whether any such illegal assault had happened. Always driven by honesty and sincerity, Choi just cannot lie, and he instead honestly agrees with the claims, resulting in the punishment of his partner. As his own force team is heavily disappointed in him, his superior asks him to stay away from the job for some days. However, Choi is very swiftly called on by the Internal Affairs department, who seem to have been impressed with the man’s character. Detective Hwang In-ho briefs Choi about a mission he is being given, where he has to secretly conduct an internal investigation into a celebrated police chief, Park Kang-yoon.
Despite being a highly successful and accomplished officer, the Investigation Unit’s chief, Park Kang Yoon, is under serious suspicion of using extensive and illegal methods in his work. Having a wide range of informers who are all hardened criminals, Park’s operations also seem to be funded with thousands of dollars from unknown sources. By now, Park has made a rival out of a young and rich drug lord, Na Young-bin, whom he has managed to arrest thrice so far. But with his far-reaching influence in politics as well as the media, Na has managed to evade punishment every time and has always got himself out of trouble. Internal Affairs now suspects that in a blind fury to arrest Na once more, Park has been working closely with his rival drug lord, Cha Dong-cheol. A photograph of Cha handing over a briefcase full of money to a man seen from the back, but suspected to be Park himself, is presented, and Choi has to investigate this suspicion. Some time back, a detective from the Investigation Unit itself was given the same mission to secretly investigate Park, but the man was soon found murdered in an alley. Although Choi initially does not intend to get involved in such risky complexities, his own personal curiosity comes into the way of his decision. Hwang In-ho shows Choi a file with classified information about Choi’s father, a police officer who had been murdered while on duty. However, this murder had never been investigated by the police, and it was instead reported that he did not die on-duty. Being told that he will be given access to this file if he takes up the secret mission, Choi thinks hard and finally agrees to it, wishing to know what had actually happened with his father.
What Does Choi Manage To Find About Park In His Initial Investigation?
Choi is soon planted as a spy inside the Investigation Unit, as he is transferred to the department and joins the force. On the very first day itself, Chief Park Kang-yoon asks Choi to accompany him on field missions instead of a regular desk job, and he gradually reveals why. At the time of the murder of Choi’s father, Park was the first policeman to have responded to the dying officer’s whistle asking for help, and it was also Park who had protected young Choi from seeing his father in such a terrible condition. Park reveals this to Choi, and the young officer is startled to learn of it. Nonetheless, Choi starts to crack into his confidential investigation, and learns that Park regularly borrows money from loan-sharks and lenders who are also criminals and therefore, his informers. However, Park uses this money to buy equipment and information required to carry on his work against Na, as it is still the case he pursues, and then also returns the entire amount to the lenders in time by earning legal bets with his own money. Choi also gets the opportunity to go through Park’s house and finds expensive clothes and the exact shoe that the person receiving the briefcase in the photograph was wearing. A 95% software match between photos of Park’s ears and those of the unknown man is also established, very much confirming that it was Park taking money from Cha. Choi plants a tracker in Park’s car, and on one occasion, follows the police chief to a posh hotel where he sits down to meet with someone looking very important. However, with the recording of that meeting and through Choi’s own research into it, he realizes that the man Park had met was no criminal or Yakuza boss, but rather a very high-ranking official in the police administration. Soon after, he accompanies his current boss to a party held by Na, as Park mentions that the murderer of the Investigation Unit officer, is supposed to be present there. He tells Choi to visually identify the murderer with a special mark on his earlobe, and the young officer manages to find and arrest the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, Choi goes over to his actual employer, the Internal Affairs chief, and discusses his findings, expressing surprise at the fact that Park was actually being funded by high-ranking police officials and not criminal organizations. The fact that Park himself arrested the man who had murdered the officer secretly investigating him also suggests that he is innocent. At some point, Choi also grows close to Park, as the senior officer tells him stories about his father, who used to be not just Park’s colleague but a very good friend as well. Soon Choi prepares his investigative findings in an official format and reports that he has found nothing strange or illegal about Park, and that the police chief is beyond any suspicion, according to him. Despite turning in his findings to the Internal Affairs, Park is apprehended by officers of the higher department, with a charge of violation of code of conduct, probably because of the way he conducted the arrest. A locked safe that was found by Choi in Park’s house is now burst open by the police, thinking that records of Park’s illegal activities are stored inside. But the safe reveals nothing but meager personal insurance papers, and no proof of evidence is found on the man. As the other members of Choi’s department grow terribly hostile to him for being the mole who had ratted out their chief, Park is released from custody and arrives on the scene. Upon knowing that it was Choi who had worked against him, he asks him why he had done so, and probably understands his reasons when Choi mentions his father. Park now assures that he has no complaints against working with Choi, and the latter now storms to the Internal Affairs chief to learn more about Park and his own father’s history.
Who Are The Yeonnam, And What Is Their Link To This Case?
Choi learns that instead of how he had imagined his father to have been an honest police officer, the man was actually quite a crooked cop with ties to an illegal group. In-ho reveals that the Seoul Police have always had a history of being very short on funds and having to look for donations to do their job, which was clearly not enough. While most police officers let criminals walk free due to lack of funds, some would actually lose all their personal money in investigations. Around this time, a new police department was set up in Seoul’s Yeonnam district, and this department gradually started to take money as donations from influential high-society people, even if they were unlawful, and then started pursuing cases that suited their donors’ interests. Realizing that such an organization rendered the police into mere people-for-hire, the Yeonnam group was quickly banned from existence, but In-ho claims that the group secretly still exists and operates in the high-ranking police administration. Choi’s father was part of this same Yeonnam group, and he had been investigating a case regarding drugs; as part of going undercover, he had himself grown addicted to the drug, and he was murdered by another man who was also a cop intoxicated by the drug. Because Yeonnam was heavily involved in this case, the father’s death was never looked into, and instead, the case was shut off. In-ho suspects that Park is also funded by this same group of top cops; it was for this reason that he had specially selected Choi to go to the police chief, knowing that Park would get close to him because of his father’s history with Yeonnam. Despite being shaken by all this information, Choi rushes to meet Park and the Investigation Unit when he is called. Together, they apprehend a man known to be a close aide of Na, and after a lot of unlawful brutalities, the man reveals that Na has now started a new venture of producing drugs by taking investment from a number of individuals, including himself. This drug, too, is something very new on the market, one that cannot be traced when mixed with coffee. Park turns this man into a close informer and also convinces him to be an inside spy for the raid that the police department is planning on Na’s factory. However, Park has to provide the man with the two million dollars that he is supposed to pay to Na as his investment in the drug business.
Park’s plans take an unexpected hit, though, when his superior suddenly informs him that the warrant required for the raid is being blocked, and even asks the officer to shift his attention to a different passport counterfeiting case. Park angrily calls for a meeting with the highest officials, the Yeonnam bosses, and tries to ask for both the warrant as well as donations for the informer’s fee, partial if not the full two million dollars. Yeonnam turns down his request, though, as they reveal that the son of their biggest donor, Chairman Kim, is directly involved in the case as one of Na’s investors. Now desperate to continue his duties as a sincere detective and police officer, Park helplessly turns to Cha again, asking him for the money. Seeing his opportunity to both eliminate his rival as well as earn the support of a top police official, the unscrupulous Cha agrees to loan him two million dollars. Although Choi had directly confronted Park about these unlawful decisions, questioning his morality as a policeman, and had been schooled by the more experienced officer about the need to be immoral for the greater good, he kept helping Park carry out the plan. He delivers the money to the informer, who then drives it to Na’s factory. Park and his men raid the factory and collect samples of the new drug as hard evidence incriminating Na for a heavy punishment this time. Although Na has been arrested, the informer manages to escape the scene with the briefcase full of money that Park was supposed to return to Cha. Choi is also attacked by a goon during the raid, who stabs him very badly; but before being attacked, Choi had noticed the same marking on the man’s earlobe as that on the suspect who he had earlier arrested for the murder of the police detective. As he spends some time by himself in the hospital recovering, Choi finally solves the puzzle and instantly rushes to Park’s house to confront him.
‘The Policeman’s Lineage’ Ending Explained: How Does Choi Save Park At The End?
Reaching Park’s house, Choi explains his belief—that Park himself had killed the police officer investigating him, and had only created the murderer with a mark on his earlobe in order to mislead Choi. The man’s silence in response makes it clear that Choi’s guess as to what had happened was exactly correct. Meanwhile, Yeonnam had ordered Park to be brought down, either arrested or transferred, and Park also struggled to come up with a plan on how to return Cha’s money. As he drives over to Cha, along with Choi (who he has almost abducted), the corrupt drug lord offers a crooked plan of help to Park—the police officer, and his companion, would have to go buy drugs on his behalf and would then be set free of the two-million-dollar debt. Seeing no way out, Park and Choi go over to a vessel in the sea late at night to buy the drugs, but after a while, Choi is startled to see other boats coming over towards them. Although it had seemed that Park had gone completely corrupt and had no connection with the police force at the time, these new boats turned out to be those of the police and coast guards, whom Park had indeed kept informed. Park is injured in the ensuing shootout, but all the drug smugglers are arrested. At the same time, the informer from Na’s raid arrives at a Seoul police station and turns in the bag full of two million dollars that he had run away with. He reveals that whatever he did was according to the police officer’s plan—Park had told the man to flee Na’s factory with the money during the raid, lay low for a couple of days, and then return the money to the police. Although the logic is not too tight, it might be guessed that Park had planned this so that he could nab Na as well as arrest the drug suppliers of Cha, making a huge dent in Seoul’s drug crimes. However, the scene soon turns sour as Hwang In-Ho and his Internal Affairs team arrive at the harbor and arrest chief Park Kang-yoon on the charge of murdering a police detective.
By now, Choi has very well learned the need to be crooked in a police administration that is itself corrupt from the top, and he understands why Park might have done the things he did. Choi makes use of his late father’s identity as a Yeonnam member and finds a way to meet one of the important current members of the group. He now forces his way into setting up a meeting with Yeonnam’s top boss, a police administration chief who he remembers having visited him after his father’s death. Choi makes use of this very murder of his father, saying that he would go public with all the information if he was not allowed to meet the boss, and the cop agrees. Choi meets the man, now quite elderly, and straightly puts out his demands—he has testimony reports of his father’s murderer and also reports of Chairman Kim’s son being tied in with Na’s drug operations and his escape to Europe after the raid. Although none of this is hard irrefutable evidence that can be presented in court, Choi cleverly threatens to release them to the press and create a media scandal. The Yeonnam boss has no option but to agree to his demands, and Park is released from prison immediately. As the two police officers drive away, Choi admits that he too has learned the ways of the trade, and now does not mind being a bit corrupt for the greater good.
“The Policeman’s Lineage” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Kyu-maan Lee.