Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Friend 2: The Great Legacy

A veritable orgy for crime-saga lovers, this epic generational genre piece, derivative as hell, delivers the bloody goods.

Dec 12, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1391298-Friend_2_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Kwak Kyung Taek's generational crime saga Friend was South Korea's highest-grossing film—a cultural phenomenon—and his Friend 2: The Great Legacy picks up the story and characters 17 years later.

Gang boss Lee Joon Seok (Yoo Oh Seong) is just released from prison, having been convicted for ordering the murder of Dong Soo, his childhood friend turned rival. He finds his city of Busan completely changed, with skyscrapers, the Internet and rampant cellphones, as well as a new mobster in control, Eung Gi (Jeong Ho Bin), who has ruthlessly made his way to the top. Joon Suk also receives a visit from an old friend, who is the mother of the also imprisoned Choi Seong Hoon (Kim Woo Bin), the son of Dong Soo. Joon Suk agrees to her plea to protect the boy, when he is released, from Eung Gi's menacing henchman, keeping the facts of his involvement with the boy's father a secret. He enlists Seong Hoon to help him regain power.

There's way more plot here, as the film flashes backwards and forwards, giving you a surfeit of information about Joon Seok's past. This abundance of story strands and characters sometimes leads to viewer confusion, but director Kwak doesn't give you a moment of reflection, as he hurtles through the action at a dizzying pace. The film is pure sensation, studded with explosive scenes of violence, with much of it bearing a very heavy debt to Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather series. For starters, there are the flashbacks to the "old school" days of Joon Seok's gangster daddy, replete with pinstriped suits and vaguely Italianate music, plus a father-son beat-down which even outdoes Sonny Corleone's over-the-top savaging of his wife-beating brother-in-law.

For pure genre lovers, all of this will be pure catnip, and for others, once you accept all the derivativeness and noisome clichés, it may deliver real, if somewhat primitive, migraine-inducing entertainment. The actors work hard, huffing and puffing away in the most macho way imaginable and, being Korean, that's macho to the max. The guys all share a smooth, sometimes bland attractiveness, a lot of it looking cosmetically engendered, as Korea at the moment is one of the world's leaders in plastic-surgery consumption.


Film Review: Friend 2: The Great Legacy

A veritable orgy for crime-saga lovers, this epic generational genre piece, derivative as hell, delivers the bloody goods.

Dec 12, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1391298-Friend_2_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Kwak Kyung Taek's generational crime saga Friend was South Korea's highest-grossing film—a cultural phenomenon—and his Friend 2: The Great Legacy picks up the story and characters 17 years later.

Gang boss Lee Joon Seok (Yoo Oh Seong) is just released from prison, having been convicted for ordering the murder of Dong Soo, his childhood friend turned rival. He finds his city of Busan completely changed, with skyscrapers, the Internet and rampant cellphones, as well as a new mobster in control, Eung Gi (Jeong Ho Bin), who has ruthlessly made his way to the top. Joon Suk also receives a visit from an old friend, who is the mother of the also imprisoned Choi Seong Hoon (Kim Woo Bin), the son of Dong Soo. Joon Suk agrees to her plea to protect the boy, when he is released, from Eung Gi's menacing henchman, keeping the facts of his involvement with the boy's father a secret. He enlists Seong Hoon to help him regain power.

There's way more plot here, as the film flashes backwards and forwards, giving you a surfeit of information about Joon Seok's past. This abundance of story strands and characters sometimes leads to viewer confusion, but director Kwak doesn't give you a moment of reflection, as he hurtles through the action at a dizzying pace. The film is pure sensation, studded with explosive scenes of violence, with much of it bearing a very heavy debt to Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather series. For starters, there are the flashbacks to the "old school" days of Joon Seok's gangster daddy, replete with pinstriped suits and vaguely Italianate music, plus a father-son beat-down which even outdoes Sonny Corleone's over-the-top savaging of his wife-beating brother-in-law.

For pure genre lovers, all of this will be pure catnip, and for others, once you accept all the derivativeness and noisome clichés, it may deliver real, if somewhat primitive, migraine-inducing entertainment. The actors work hard, huffing and puffing away in the most macho way imaginable and, being Korean, that's macho to the max. The guys all share a smooth, sometimes bland attractiveness, a lot of it looking cosmetically engendered, as Korea at the moment is one of the world's leaders in plastic-surgery consumption.
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