Reviewed by: sukting

September 27, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

How long

120 minutes

This movie earned Jang Dong Gun his first film award. Do you wish to
know why?


Friend takes place in the 1970s to the 1990s. There are four friends
who are very close together and live in a small town in South Korea.
They attend the same high school. Joon-suk (Yu Oh-seong) is a son of
a vigilant gang boss who is badtempered. Dong-su (Jang Dong Gun) is
the only son of an undertaker. He helps his father grooming the
corpses. Sang-taek (Tae-hwa Seo) is a thoughtful and diligent student.

Joong-ho (Un-taek Jeong) is talkative. Joon-suk is known as the
school’s boss and a fighter. Dong-su is known to be the no. 2 fighter.
There is tension between them when left alone. All share their
interest on the porn magazine and Bruce Lee's Kungfu. They often like
to watch television programmes at Joong-ho’s home. His mother is a
businesswoman who often brings home new movies.

Sang-taek is later sent to a different school as he is smart. He loses
contact with Joon-suk and Dong-su but still contacts Joong-ho
frequently. Sang Taek gets more contact with Joon-suk later. Their
lives takes different turns as they grow up. Dong-su is expelled for
causing trouble in school. Three years later, Dong-su has ended up in
prison after killing someone and Joon-suk is addicted to drugs. He
later gets married.

Joong-ho and Sang-taek have walked away from their delinquent past.
They are enrolled in college but often visit Dong-su behind bars. When
Dong-su is finally released, he works for his father again. Despite
his drug habit, Joon-suk has risen to a high position.

Joong-ho and Sang-taek (the narrator of the story) hold legitimate
jobs after completing their university education. Joon-suk becomes the
leading henchman of his father's crime ring. Dong-su’s father often
picks up on him, reminding hom of his past. Getting frustrated, Dong-
su returns to a life of street crime, but turning his back on Joon-
suk. He turns to serve for Joon-suk's rival gangs believing that
loyalty is money. Dong-su becomes influential and it leads to frequent
collision between the two friends.

Sang-taek and Joong-ho find themselves helplessly watching their two
best friends wield knives at each other. They simply can’t stop this
from happening. Dong-su is finally killed by Joon-suk’s gang.
Literally brutally killed when he is slashed to death. The two can
only offer their sorrow at his grave and often visit Joon-suk in
prison as he is arrested for the crime.

Interesting facts

The movie is based on a true story from the director's own childhood.
The director was the narrator of the movie. Many thought he gave the
movie depth and emotional feel. It proved to be a massive commercial
success, setting a record for racking up 8 million tickets.

Dong Gun spent a long time mastering the Busan accent. His efforts
were paid off. In the 46th Asia-Pacific International Film Festival,
he won the Best Supporting Actor. Yu Oh-seong won the best actor
award n Korean film festival. Yoo won effusive critical praise for
his hard-edged performance for the role.

MBC shot it into a 16-episode TV drama in 2009. Hyun Bin and Kim Min-
joon play the roles of Jang Dong-gun and Yoo Oh-sung, respectively.
Suh Do Young stars as Sang Taek. Hyun Bin watched the movie dvd many
times to know the role better. All the episodes were shot in Busan,
just like the film.


The movie talks about too many things - betrayal, loyalty, friendship,
jealousy, love, hate, etc. I stepped into the cinema after knowing
that it had won a number of awards. But I felt short-changed as it was
no different from any Hong Kong mobster movie. How many times have we
seen friends turning into enemies?

It is a cheesy and sentimental soap-opera while dealing with
friendship. Luckily, the superb acting by most of the cast saves the
weak plot. Dong Gun gives strength to Dong-su’s development while Yoo
shows a big range of expressions in the role of Joon-suk. The Busan-
accent provides the movie with very rich color on the background. I am
hardly keen about the story development. It is not exactly moving and
overly tragic.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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