Top 10 Korean Gangster Films

9. Friend (2001) / A Love (2007)

Kway Kyung-taek's smash hit Friend was a sensation upon its release and surprised everyone with its record box office returns.  It popularized the director's hometown as it revelled in Busan's busy streets and its colloquial vernacular.  The semi-autobiographical story spanned a significant time period as it traced four friend's lives from high school into adulthood.  It made a star out of Jang Dong-gun and featured some powerful scenes which demonstrated the technical potential of Korean cinema to come at that relatively early stage.  The themes of conflicting loyalties and the destructive potential of gang affiliation are as old as time but they struck a chord with audiences.

Kwak's later film A Love is a simple but well told spin on the star-crossed lovers story set in the gangster milieu.  It's a natural fit as it amplifies the fatalism of the lover's story.  More than any other film he has made, this may be Kwak's most effective as a director.  The film is lean, well-paced, and of course well made, if I little silly but I suppose that's par for the course for Kwak.  As a romance film it is particularly effective, although the director is known for his action films, he has said that he harbors an enormous affinity for melodrama and in A Love, this passion pays off as he successfully blends the two things he knows best.  I must admit I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, I didn't expect it to work so well.

Intro - 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 - Best of the Rest

Top 10 Lists

Year   2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - All Time (Top 25)

Genre   Gangster - Revenge

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