The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

FRIEND (Chingu) 2001, 2009, and 2013


Director - Kwak Kyung-Taek
Writer -  Kwak Kyung-Taek
Genre -  Gangpae, Reminisce
Related titles -  Friend, Our Legend | Chingoo, Woorideului Jeonseol (MBC / 2009)
                          Friend, The Great Legacy | Chingoo 2 (2013)
Release Date -  March 31, 2001



The director's experience with his real friends, a semi-autobiographical account set in Busan. The actors speak with a strong Busan dialect.
Joon-suk, son of a vigilant gang boss; Dong-su, only son of an undertaker; Sang-taek, a diligent student; and Joong-ho, who never keeps his mouth shut. They walked the streets with their heads held high, shoulders straight, and chests out, fearing nothing when they were together. Friends who share their porn magazine fantasies and awe of Bruce Lee's Kungfu. Each life takes a different turn. Joon-suk becomes the leading henchman of his father's crime ring and Dong-su is serving for Joon-suk's rival gang. Sang-taek and Joong-ho find themselves helplessly watching their two best friends wield knives at each other.   ~DramaWiki (w/edits)

Friend was nominated for five awards and won three. At the 46th Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Yu Oh-seong and Jang Dong-gun won the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards.


Gritty, intense, and bloody account of four young men growing up in Busan back in the seventies and through approximately twenty years, when lives climax and fade away.

It is obvious why this film garnered nominations, awards, and is one of the highest watched films from Korea.

Long-running as well, with a 2009 MBC remake, Friend, Our Legend, directed by Kwak Kyung-taek, was 20-episodes for television and starred Hyun Bin as Dong-su and Kim Min-joon as Joon-seok.

This was an adaptation of the original movie and was far more bloody and indepth than the original, with greater emphasis falling back on the personal lives of all four boys, their connection to one another throughout, and their eminent demise toward the end -- except for the narrator (writer) who chose an entirely separate path from the other three.

And Friend: The Great Legacy, Director:Writer Kwak Kyung taek (again) is the 2013 sequel where Yu Oh-seong reprises his role. It takes place seventeen years after the events of the original film. In it, Joon-seok meets the grown-up son of Dong-su (Kim Woo-bin), and is interspersed with scenes of Joon-seok's own father (Joo Jin-mo) in 1963.

친구 2


Joon seok (Yu Oh-Seong) is in prison for almost 17 years now when a woman comes to the prison and requests that Joon seok protect her son from other gang members. Joon seok then takes Sung hoon under his wing in prison.

When Joon seok is released from prison, he learns that Eun ki (Jung Ho-Bin) has gotten rid of his men and now dominates the gang which Joon seok's father (Joo Jin-Mo) started. Joon seok plots to take back control.

When Sung hoon is released from prison, he works for Joon seok in a power struggle against Eun ki.

My introduction to this story came with the MBC Television remake that starred Hyun bin, which I watched three times over the years.

This is my very first viewing of the original movie (2001), and last night I finally watched the sequel that stars Kim Woo bin.

The direction that the 2001 movie and its 2013 sequel take are more obvious about who is actually behind the scenes and calling a majority of the shots (writer, director Kwak Kyung taek) since this is his story and his childhood we're watching unfold.

A lot of the original cast (those who weren't massacred in 2001, that is) returned for the 2013 sequel, which added depth and interest.

2001 is about the four boys and their lives after coming-of-age, and the 2013 sequel centers around Woo bin's character. The sequel also delves a little deeper into the life of Lee Jun seok's father, the original gangpae wizard.

Loose ends are cleared up in the 2013 version as well, but for those of you who haven't watched either yet, I can't say anything that won't end up being a spoiler, so . . .

I thought that Yu Oh seong did a terrific job in both. He's a bad ass through and through and has that look that terrifies, doesn't he?

As for our young, brash Woo bin, he's a keeper.

Like Oh seong, Woo bin has the look, and both men use their eyes to convey a whole lot, without the need of words or a loud voice to get their message across.

It's as sexy as it is terrifying, but I love it in either case because it is so compelling.

The cigarette drop toward the end of 2001 comes up again in 2013, but after having watched both movies (in a row), I still don't see or comprehend Jun seok's knowledge of what occurred as a result.

Well, I do and I don't, and maybe that has something to do with Jun seok's reaction in 2013.

I'd recommend both movies as a 'pass some time' event, but not if you're squeamish (like me) because you'll be turning away from the screen on more than one occasion.

Woo bin's performance is worth the anxiety, though.


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