In 1970s, during the height of political corruption, Gangnam, the southern part of Seoul is starting to be transformed into developed area. Childhood friends Jong Dae and Yong Ki struggled 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 for the skirmishes.3 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 gangs organization, the Myeongdong-pa and as a member he has been entangled in a high stakes battle over lands in Gangnam, all in the name of putting together secret presidential election funds that drive up the value of the city. As the gangs fight over the rights to various plots, Yong Ki is captured and interrogated by a rival gang.
Where to Watch Gangnam 1970
Cast & Credits
Having said that, G 1970 is thoroughly watchable. In fact I watched it twice. The first time was a blur because there were so many characters, and to be honest, all the men, and there were plenty of them - gangsters and politicians - did sort of start to look like one another after a while which made it difficult to understand the plot and storyline, not to mention having to read the subtitles fast left me a bit confused.
But when i watched it a second time, I enjoyed it much more because the story and characters became clearer to me.The action/fighting scenes are very realistic and well executed; there is a lot of blood and gore. The pace of the movie is tight and well controlled although I think the editing did leave some parts a bit patchy and not as smooth and seamless as it could have been.
Kim Rae Won shines as a baddie but I think this has to do with his "bad boy" look in the first place which makes his character believable but KRW does play his character very effortlessly and it is testament to the good actor that he is. Jeong Jin Yeong who plays Jong Dae's adoptive father is also an excellent actor - very controlled in his acting yet conveying volumes - pain, regret; you really get that he wants to leave his gangster roots behind and live a simple life.
It is tougher to see Lee Min Ho as a gangster, but on the occasions when he is out for blood and you see the anger and raw emotions - that's when he really stands out. It helps that he is not an all out baddie; he did not start out as a gangster and his psyche is such that he would not have been one if circumstances and fate had not dealt him such a hand. So he can be excused for looking exceedingly handsome while wielding a knife. I think overall it was a major transformative role for him and he truly delivered. Aside from anger and ferocity which he conveyed well, he also spoke volumes with his eyes when channelling ambition, despair and emptiness. You have to watch his eyes; it's all in his eyes. All in a great performance for a breakout role such as this. In fact, after sharing his pain and loss as Jong Dae, I had to get a dose of fresh air and made my way to the Innisfree store downstairs to look at his standee (he's their global brand ambassador) - there he was standing, smiling, fresh faced and youthful, with his Kim Tan look and that was when the contrast of characters really hit me, it was like i was looking at 2 completely different people, and that was when I realised he had really managed to change his image for the movie and he had done it very successfully. Forgive me for rambling about Min Ho; I am a fan!
The last scene is very touching, heart wrenching and symbolic and very well done; a fitting end to a roller coaster movie. On the whole, kudos to Yoo Ha and the cast; it was quite a ride!
The plot is nothing new in Korean gangster film world, but if you happen to love this world you will also love this film. I felt like there was something more to it, more than in usual gangster flicks. There were many layers to the plot, a few stories intertwining together, so the rewatch value is pretty high. A lot was going on at all times, so in general, this movie was not boring. The ending felt rushed, though. And also, because so much was going on and there were so many characters, most of the side characters were flat. There was not enough time to go deep enough into the characters, which was a pity. I think this plot would have worked better as a mini-series.
The acting, it wasn't bad but not outstanding either. I liked Lee Min Ho and Kim Rae Won. Not only because they are hot, but also because they fit their roles. Rae Won was totally badass and Min Ho brought some sensuality into his badness. But still, I think the acting was a bit lacking. I loved Jong Dae's and Yeog Ki's friendship or should I say "brotherhood", it was touching and beautiful. Thumbs up for the bromance! These two were like innocence and twisted nature melting into something wonderful.
Like most of the times, the sex scenes were over the top. Maybe Korean directors think it's artistic but when I want to watch a gangster film I am NOT looking for porn. I know that sex is part of the badassness of gangster life, but those scenes made me laugh because heck they looked like rabbits mating. Can't say anything else to this than LoL!
The fighting scenes were artistic but honestly, I wish one of these directors finally did something new. I've seen bunch of men fighting in rain, in water, in mud, in sunshine, in grains, in *insert whatever you want* but dare I say it's getting old! Dare I say I actually fast forwarded the fighting scenes, because there were plenty and they made me numb. But at least they were well executed, I can't complain about that. The violence got so much more impact when it was exercised to someone by only one person in a form of torture. That was disturbing with an impact.
Love? You could say there was a subtle love plot somewhere in the background for both main characters, but the bromance was the main focus, that and the scheming of all these greedy people around them. I liked the idea how two guys actually dared to stand up to the corrupt wickedness, perhaps their intentions were not any better but it was still pretty cool. The ending was something most of us expected. Notice the contrast between Jong Dae and Yeong Ki! The symbolism was strong in this one.