Two of hottest Korean actors—Lee Min-ho and Kim Rae-won play the lead roles of Kim Jong-dae and Baek Yong-ki, respectively in ‘Gangnam Blues’. Both are childhood friends who treated themselves as adopted brothers, and support themselves by picking up papers and empty bottles, but dreamt of having a more comfortable life someday.
Due to their dire need for cash, they got involved in the collusion and battles between political powers and criminal organizations during the real estate development of Seoul’s Gangnam District amid a socio-political turmoil in the 1970s.
A Tagalised Film.
Watching this in cinemas would probably confused moviegoers that they are watching Koreanovela either on GMA-7 Kapuso or ABS-CBN 2 Kapamilya channels. One would not see any sub-titles in English anymore, but SineAsia, a joint project of Viva Entertainment Incorporated and SM Lifestyle Entertainment Incorporated opted to run the film as a breakthrough in showing Asian flicks dubbed in Tagalog for Filipinos to have a unique and enjoyable viewing experience.
Personally, it is effective in choosing to present the film this way for Filipinos to appreciate fully the film’s message; though the theme song used—titled ‘Anak’ which was popularized by Filipino folk singer Freddie Aguilar was a bit disturbing for me. Maybe it’s just me.
However, in its entirety, the film is moving in many ways particularly in its dramatic scenes that showed Lee Min-ho.
Lee Min-ho shines through!
Though Lee Min-ho is being pitted against another actor Kim Rae-won of ‘Love Story in Harvard’ fame; still the former stood out especially in his moments.
Kim Rae-won as Baek Yong-ki reminds me of Mark Anthony Fernandez, the local actor we have and the son of the late Rudy Fernandez and the actress-turned politician—Alma Moreno.
As Kim Jong-dae, he managed to live a decent and honest life with a with former gang leader Kil-su as the adopted son and brother to the old man’s only daughter. Lee Min-ho displayed his dramatic prowess in scenes where he tried to console his sister Kang Seon-hye, a battered wife portrayed by Kim Seolhyun. The other scene was when he read a document revealing his legal adoption to the family he has learned to love and embrace as his own. And the last one was when he was crawling in pain beside the train railways; this was toward the conclusion of the movie.
Indeed, Lee Min-ho was successful enough in channeling a cool aura with deep emotional sense as a rising gangster. Meanwhile, Kim Rae-won‘s acting is his best performance after he portrayed a similar role as a gangster in 2006 film ‘Sunflower’.
A Film with So Much Promise.
Apart from the film’s commerciality due to casting both Lee Min-ho and Kim Rae-won; it offers a deeper sensibility on what family is all about.
Also, it tackled an evocative and immensely entertaining saga that pits a common tale of brotherhood and betrayal against a thrilling period setting mired in violence and corruption as described by modern Korean cinema’s Pierce Conran.
In terms of production, it has painted a realistic era of the 70s Korea and every fight scene were handled well to the extent that I need not watch the bloody and violent scenes. The director—Yoo Ha did a fine job in directing the film with a different title—Gangnam 1970 back in 2014, but ‘Gangnam Blues’ was retained as the international English title.
The film is something that Filipino fanatics of Korean actor-Lee Min-Ho would really go out and watch. It opened in theaters in Metro Manila, on Wednesday, March 4. However, after watching the red carpet premiere held at SM Megamall, Cinema 11—I found the film too violent; not suitable and recommendable for younger audiences below 18 years of age.
‘Gangnam Blues’ was released in 684 theaters in South Korea on January 21 this year and topped the box office on its opening day, with 152,500 tickets sold despite its ‘restricted’ rating. Catch it in all theaters today!