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Friend (2001)

Cast: Yu Oh-seong, Yu Oh-seong, Jang Dong-keon, more...
Director: Kwak Kyung-taek, Kwak Kyung-taek
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Media Asia
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Korea, Crime, Gangsters
Running Time: 113 min.
Languages: Korean
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Conflicting criminal alliances turn old friends into mortal enemies in this taut drama. Thoughtful Sang-taek (Tae-hwa Seo), hot-tempered Jeong-suk (Yu Oh-seong), bookish Jeong-ho (Un-taek Jeong), and hair-triggered Dong-su (Jang Dong-gun) are four friends who grew up together in a small town in South Korea. The four came of age in the politically tumultuous early '80s, and while in high school, the boys began to drift into a life of crime as members of a teenage gang. Three years after graduating, Dong-su has ended up in prison and Jeong-suk is addicted to drugs, while Jeong-ho and Sang-taek have walked away from their delinquent pasts and are enrolled in college, though they occasionally visit Dong-su behind bars. When Dong-su is finally released, he returns to a life of street crime, but turning his back on Jeong-suk, he aligns himself with a different underworld gang. Despite his drug habit, Jeong-suk has risen to a position of no small power on the streets, and as Dong-su's star rises, it leads to an inevitable collision between the two friends. Chingu proved to be a massive commercial success in South Korea, setting a record for racking up six million admissions faster than any local feature in the nation's history. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Must-See Film by JMVerville November 26, 2004 - 11:09 AM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
It is a bit hard to know where to begin when dissecting such a film. What I can say is that this was a very stunning film, and with the time you spend thinking about it and the more times that you watch it it only becomes more relevant and better. Mr. Kwak is capable to tell the story of four friends on such an intimate level because it was based very much on his own personal experiences.

The story is extremely genuine, and it holds so much water for anybody who has ever witnessed the people that they love ruin their lives. It certainly comes straight from the heart of Kwak, and while watching it it is hard not to become emotional as you see the film being developed.

I also found the film to be made very professionally, with some great camera-work and never once did I feel that the production was sub-par. A lot of the camera work is well executed.

Overall, the dialogue and story are very powerful, and the calm, reflective nature of the film makes it easy to watch. I enjoyed this film very much. Overall, one of the best portrayals of the passage of time, nostalgic sentimentality, and the relations of friends.

Male friendship, South Korean-style by talltale August 16, 2004 - 9:54 AM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
The South Korean movie FRIEND packs in a lot of story as it spans some 15 years in the life of four friends, two of whom grow up to be gangsters, while the others follow more normal careers. Visually, the film is often stunning, and the four actors who play the grown men are quite good--in one case, hugely charismatic. I've heard comparisons made between this movie and "Once Upon a Time in America," but they are not apt. The Sergio Leone classic takes in twice the time-frame and offers pungent woman characters. Women barely figure here (save one put-upon girlfriend, who turns out to be relatively unimportant). While this adds to FRIEND's homo-erotic undertones--which are rife--it probably says more about the writer/director's view of women than it does about their place in South Korean society (I hope so, at least). Still, this film is worth seeing if you are into Asian cinema. And I certainly hope to see more of these interesting actors.

Cliched by kamapuaa May 28, 2004 - 12:29 PM PDT
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Nothing particularly wrong with this movie, but there wasn't much to like, either - I've seen too many movies about friends who grow apart over time, but stay trying to hold their relationship together. There's nothing particularly wrong with this one, but I felt like this was the male equivalent to Beaches, where they become ultra-cool gangsters instead of ultra-cool celebrity entertainers. This gangster action, aside from using a normal-ish character's perspective as a framing device, could have been one of a hundred HK action movies about gangster friends who join rival gangs.

So it's hard to judge. The acting, dialogue, photography, etc., are all good, but it's being used to support scenes I saw coming a mile away, and knew exactly how they would resolve themselves.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.87)
54 Votes
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