Every once in a while a movie comes along that stands out from the crowd. The Last Godfather, against my better judgment, is actually one of those flicks. It’s a sleeper of a film full of whimsical laughs and over-the-top zany stunts in a style that brought back memories of pre-sound black and white gangster and slapstick movies from the 20s and 30s.
In 1951, Don Carini (Harvey Keitel), the mafia's most powerful Godfather, gathers his followers to announce a shocking new heir to the family. During his travels in Asia, Don Carini fell in love with an Asian woman who bore him a son. Now an adult, Young-gu (Hyung Rae Shim), is anointed the next boss. Bonfante (Jon Polito), the betrayer in the outfit, wants Young-gu out, and with his minions, relentlessly tries to sabotage his training and take out the aging Don. The film also features Jason Mewes, best known as Jay of the Jay and Silent Bob duo featured in several Kevin Smith movies.
At first, the over-the-top gimmick of the nerdy Young-gu was a little hard to stomach, but after the first couple of groaner gags, Hyung Rae Shim was captivating – he actually has the comedic timing of the vintage black and white era comedians and The Last Godfather almost felt like a modern take on something Laurel and Hardy could have made in the golden age on cinema.
With a little research, I discovered that Shim, who also wrote and directed the movie, is a Korean comedic superstar and has used the slapstick Young-gu character for years – last appearing in the 2006 film Dragon Tuka. The Last Godfather was the first time I’d ever seen Shim or Young-gu, but I can guarantee it won’t be the last. If The Last Godfather is any indication of his comedic genius, I have a whole Korean comedy catalog to look forward to. Once viewers get past the first couple of gags, The Last Godfather is worth the watch.The benfit is the hearty belly laughs it can produce.