Monday, 15 October 2012

LFF: Nameless Gangster

Korean crime films have always been firmly on my radar after seeing the likes of Oldboy and A Bittersweet Life. This is another fantastic film for the collection, and like other Korean gangster movies, it is a pastiche of comedy, violence and drama. Min-sik Choi plays Choi Ik-hyun, a downtrodden civil servant who falls into the world of organised crime after a fortuitous find. It's not long before he's playing the game, and for all his blundering and bewilderness, he becomes a shrewd (if at times greedy) operator. Capturing Busan (S. Korea) during the 80s and 90s, we see organised crime become so rife that the government eventually declared war on it - reminiscent of Elliott Ness' war against Al Capone in 50s Chicago. The acting is superb from the leads (with ubiquitous hammy Asian performances from some of the supporters), but a great lead from the star of Oldboy seals the deal, and Ha Jang-woo's 'Big Boss' is excellent - oozing a quiet sense of menace. Nameless Gangster plays out like a Scorsese movie, and director Yun Jong-bin has become "one to watch", even giving Kim Ji-woon's gangster masterpiece A Bittersweet Life a run for its money.  * * * * (4)

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