Set in 1971 GUNGNAM BLUES tells the story of Seul expansion to a new territory - Gangnam. The focus is on two homeless boys who become members of rival gangs. While Jong-Dae is focused on semi noble cause - to build new homes so no one could ever be cold and hungry, his friend Yong-ki strives for money and power. As they fight for their desires, will two boys be able to keep their humanity intact and as stakes rise high, will they be able to pay an ultimate price when the time comes?
Director Yoo Ha is not new to the genre of a gangster movie and with GUNGNAM BLUES he tries to re-create the atmosphere of the 70's and is clearly inspired by the film's like Once Upon A Time In America and Casino. He takes time to tell his story, introducing the patchwork of charachters and situations. Action is not the main feature, but once it rolls out the set pieces are spectacular and inspired. On the other side an overly deep (and terribly sentimental) friendship between the two orphaned boys never really works. There are a few unnecessary plot turns (one including Jong-Dae's step sister and her abusive husband) and the film's clocking off just over two hours could have been much shorter and focused.
GUNGNAM BLUES is just another Korean gangster film that tries to mix violent action with sentimental reflection on life. It is entertaining, but fails to deliver on atmosphere and character development. The cinematography of action scenes is too shaky for my liking and the drama is too cliche to fully believe the touching friendship between the two men. The script is overloaded with characters and is hard to follow.
In the end GUNGNAM BLUES just does not deliver and lacks the originality and sincerity Korean cinema is so famous for.