강남1970 (Gangnam Blues)

A m.o.vera Pictures Production
Distribution: Showbox/Mediaplex Inc.
Rating: 18 and Over
Genre: Action, Noir
Running Time: 135 Min (Theatrical) 141 Min (IPTV Uncut)
Shooting Time: 2014/Apr/16~Aug/31 (135 Dates)
Release: 2015/Jan/21

WITH 이민호 (Lee Min-Ho) as Jong-Dae; 김래원 (Kim Rae-Won) as Yong-Gi; 정진영 (Jung Jin-Young) as Gil-Soo; 설현 (Seol Hyeon) as Kang Seon-Hye; 유승목 (Yoo Seung-Mok) as Seo Tae-Gon; 한재영 (Han Jae-Young) as Park Chang-Bae; 이연두 (Lee Yeon-Doo) as Jo Soo-Jung; 정호빈 (Jung Ho-Bin) as Yang Gi-Taek; 최진호 (Choi Jin-Ho) as Park Seung-Gu; 엄효섭 (Eom Hyo-Seop) as Kim Jung-Gyu; 허성민 (Heo Seong-Min) as Jae-Pil; 김유연 (Kim Yoo-Yeon) as Jeom-Soon; 지대한 (Ji Dae-Han) as Chang Deok-Jae; 김지수 (Kim Ji-Soo) as Min Seong-Hee);

CREW Director 유하 (Yoo Ha) Executive Producer 한길로 (Han Gil-Ro) 박선영 (Park Seon-Young) | Screenplay 유하 (Yoo Ha) Screenplay Adaptation 임보람 (Im Bo-Ram) 박창순 (Park Chang-Soon) 강보승 (Kang Bo-Seung) 박동식 (Park Dong-Shik) | Director of Photography 김태성 (Kim Tae-Seong) 홍승혁 (Hong Seung-Hyeok) Lighting 김경석 (Kim Gyeong-Seok) Editor 박곡지 (Park Gok-Ji) Music 조영욱 (Jo Young-Wook) Art Direction 강승용 (Kang Seung-Yong) Costumes 김경미 (Kim Gyeong-Mi) Action Choreography 신재명 (Shin Jae-Myeong) | Assistant Director 임보람 (Im Bo-Ram) 황재진 (Hwang Jae-Jin)

BOX OFFICE
KOFIC Nationwide
TOTAL REVENUE: 17,696,244,199 Won
TOTAL ADMISSIONS: 2,188,664
BUDGET: 10,000,000,000 Won

Photo ⓒ m.o.vera Pictures, Showbox/Mediaplex Inc.

SYNOPSIS

In the 1970s, during the height of political corruption, Gangnam, the southern part of Seoul is starting to be transformed into a developed area. Childhood friends Jong-dae and Yong-ki struggle to get by, until their shanty homes are demolished by local thugs. Desperate for cash, they get involved in violent political clashes, and are separated during one of the skirmishes. Three years later, Jong-dae lives as an honest man with former gang leader Kil-su. Meanwhile, Yong-ki has joined Seoul’s most powerful criminal organization and fights over the lands in Gangnam, all in the name of putting together secret political funds that drive up the value of the city - [KoBiz]

IN SHORT

For better or worse, gangsters have made the last twenty years of Korean cinema a more interesting industry – from the record-breaking box office feats of the Scorsesian 친구 (Friend) to the nauseating horde of copycat gangster comedies, and all the way to much more serious recent efforts like the tremendous 신세계 (New World). In the midst of all this sashimi knife-wielding bonanza director Yoo Ha somehow managed to weave a cohesive narrative through his “street trilogy,” a trio of hard-hitting gangster noir films that in retrospect achieved enough quality to redeem his last two rather unimpressive works – the dumbfoundingly awkward Goryeo sageuk 쌍화점 (A Frozen Flower) and the insipid drama 하울링 (Howling).

The end of the trilogy might be the most “lightweight” of the three – when 말죽거리 잔혹사 (Once Upon a Time in High School) and 비열한 거리 (A Dirty Carnival) are what you're being compared to, it's not that easy to live up to that kind of pathos. But it does draw a pretty vivid portrayal of the atmosphere that dominated the productive rush that led to the Miracle on the Han River of the 1970s. Lightweight because so many of the disparate stories and characters that fill its narrative eventually fall by the wayside thanks to yet another prototypical gangster noir theme (that of two “blood brothers” almost forced by their political and social environment to betray each other). Yet, Yoo's endearing detachment always encourages you to think more in terms of symbolism than storytelling minutiae: what becomes the protagonist of the story is not so much this derivative plot, but all the pent up angst of that generation of men. Hence the violence (which comes in epic, operatic quantity), the sex (rough, almost passionless, more a passive nervous discharge than anything mentally active), the nihilism, the power of money and politics shaping society. This overarching mood quickly becomes a character of its own, enveloping the entire film with great flair.

Convenient Hallyu prospects that motivated the casting aside, Lee Min-Ho might be visibly protected in his first serious role (character is only complex on the surface, and takes advantage of his obvious physicality), but he shows the kind of heart and panache that he never hinted at before -- although this doesn't necessarily means a turning point for his all-too-lucrative career. The real highlight though is Kim Rae-Won, whose acting here alongside his performance in 펀치 (Punch) represents the best work of his career. He perfectly embodies the repressed rage and helplessness of an era that made easy pawns out of alpha males like Yong-Gi. The rest of the cast ranges from the unimpressive (Kim Seol-Hyeon and Kim Ji-Soo, visibly out of their range) to the pleasantly reliable (Jung Jin-Young, Jung Ho-Bin).

Certainly Yoo could have made a subtler film, one where the inner politics that created that strange castle in the sky known as Gangnam are a more active factor in the delivery of his strong message. But paradoxically by keeping things this simple he has managed to convey that contextual punch in a more visceral way. Not a great work by any means, but a fitting conclusion for one of the most accomplished trilogies of recent memory.

ACTING GRADES

86 김래원 (Kim Rae-Won)
78 정진영 (Jung Jin-Young)
74 엄효섭 (Eom Hyo-Seop)
73 이민호 (Lee Min-Ho)
73 정호빈 (Jung Ho-Bin)
72 한재영 (Han Jae-Young)
72 지대한 (Ji Dae-Han)
71 최진호 (Choi Jin-Ho)
70 허성민 (Heo Seong-Min)
70 유승목 (Yoo Seung-Mok)
62 이연두 (Lee Yeon-Doo)
57 설현 (Seol Hyeon)
55 김유연 (Kim Yoo-Yeon)
52 김지수 (Kim Ji-Soo)

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