In 1982, Busan, South Korea’s second city, Ik Hyun is a corrupt customs officer on the verge of getting fired. When he comes upon a motherlode of a heroine, he decides to go out with a bang and partners with the city’s top gang boss Hyung Bae, a relationship thickened with blood when they figure out they are related. Winning the trust of the mob boss with his ability to solve problems and talk his way out of sticky situations, the former customs officer and gangster make a formidable partnership and begin to rule the times. 1990 brings the announcement of a government war against crime and each partner is forced to fight for his own survival. Who is the better gangster and who will have the last laugh?
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Cast & Credits
Usually, Korean gangster movies are either a hit or a miss for me depending on how well the execution and the storytelling are done. Nameless Gangster managed to get the good points out of the general theme.
This movie is set in the 90’s Pusan when Korean government announced war on organized crime. The gangster world got shaken in a way that threatened its existence but that’s not the main focus of this movie. It takes us back in time to tell the story of two gangsters and the struggles they encountered to reach the top. This is a story about a wannabe gangster and a hot shot gang leader that deals with loyalty, betrayal, gangsters’ codes of honor and clashes in the underworld where those two individuals tried to co-exist like a united soul: One is the muscles and the other is the brain. However, creating harmony in the gangster life is almost impossible.
While the story of the movie isn’t exactly exceptional or flawless by any mean; the acting was. I am sure that I would’ve not liked this the same if there was a different set of cast. Choi Min Sik is the lord of Korean cinema when it comes to versatility and flawless roles’ portrayal and his “gangster-like” character was quite hateful in a loveable way. Ha Jung Woo on the other hand is climbing way too fast on the top of my favorite young Korean movies’ stars. He’s creating a shiny name for himself whether by the roles he accepts or the way he makes them feel so attractive. At this rate, I am sure he will become another lord of Korean cinema soon. In this movie, Jung Woo was so fitting for the “gangster aura”; he did so well with the process of his character’s development.
The other set of cast were also well-chosen even if some characters felt a little unbalanced for the setting.
I’ve got to give some credit for the cinematography since it was well fitting for the gangster mood. The music was also quite good.
Watch this if:
-You like gangster movies.
-You’re in the mood for something different and dark.
-You like Choi Min Sik, Ha Jung Woo or both because they were great in this.
Do not watch if:
-You’re not into crime/gangster movies.
-You’re not a fan of the main cast.
Nameless Gangster is a movie about survival, friendship and loyalty in the underground gangster world from the viewpoint of a wannabe gangster and a proclaimed gang leader portrayed by two of the best actors in Korean cinema.