Notable Cast: Lee Min-ho, Kim Rae-won, Jung Jin-young, Kim Ji-soo, Kim Seolhyun
Gangnam Blues (aka Gangnam 1970) is my favorite film of 2015, thus far. Renown Korean director, Yoo Ha, who did two of SK's best films to offer, A Dirty Carnival and A Frozen Flower, returns to his Dirty Carnival gangster roots which put him on the map back in internationally back in 2006. 2011's The Howling, a weird flick that doesn't quite work starring Song Kang-ho, left me wondering where Yoo would go next and all I will say is I am glad he returned to make one more gangster film.
Gangnam Blues tells the story of Jong-dae (Lee Min-ho), and Yong-ki (Kim Rae-won), two orphan brothers who spend their days homeless, picking up trash around the neighborhood and making change to scrape by their daily lives. All of this is changed, of course, when the shack they are camping out in is being demolished one morning whilst they are sleeping inside. Rushing out to try and stop the people responsible, we quickly realize the ones at the helm of demolition are some suited gangsters. After a quick, and failed fight, we see the brothers quickly find themselves spiraling down into the world of gangsters.
The cinematography in this film is a thing of beauty. My only real complaint with it visually is sometimes the image looks a bit soft from the natural lighting in certain sequences, but overall it's a real looker.
This is also, hands down, the best role Lee Min-ho has taken on in his career. For those who don't know Lee Min-ho, he is ridiculously HUGE in South Korea and a heartthrob to women (and men) all over the world. He has a massive following internationally due to being is some television series like Boys Over Flowers and more recently City Hunter, which put him on full-on idol status. That being said, I still wish to see him as an actor and playing the role he is given. Lee Min-ho is definitely not a man of the gangster underworld in real life, but he sells it here phenomenally. I believed him as Jong-dae, and found myself not ever really thinking of him as Lee Min-ho (outside of an annoying shot of him on a motorcycle, where the frame rate changes to put the film into slow-motion for a brief moment, which wasn't his fault).
One last shout-out to the cast of the film, and in particular, Jung Jin-young as the fatherly Kang Gil-soo. It's not a big stand-out performance or role, but their is a naturalness to Jung throughout this film that makes his character memorable, and his loyalty to his boys and his character arc in the film (albeit a small one) is great.
Written By Josh Parmer