Friend (2001)

Genre: Crime, Drama














Friend (Chingoo), award winning movie that set off Korean box office records at the time it was released, and is most famous movie of relatively unknown director Kwak Kyung-taek whom since then has been unable to surpass it by his other works.

Despite big differences in their lifestyles and families, four friends spend their time together while growing up in late 1970's South Korea, that was very different to Korea we know now.


As the time passes by, their paths in live gradually become separated, each takes their own, easy or difficult way forward. Two of the friends, Sang-taek (Tae-hwa Seo) and Jeong-ho (Un-taek Jeong) apply for a university to get good education, while other two, Lee Jeong-suk (Oh-seong Yu) and Dong-su (Dong-gun Jang) choose the path of crime and become involved in gang business, while being affected by things that usually accompany such activity, prisons, drugs, and death.

However, their lives still cross each other occasionally, while undergraduates are finishing their last years of study, Lee Jeong-suk and Dong-su have become gang leaders...


A tragic story about friendship and lives of four people. A really personal movie from Kwak Kyung-taek as it is semi-biographic movie loosely based on early part of directors life. Already really emotional movie, whose impact is just magnified by these  memories and recollections about his friends and their fates.

Excellent and credible actor performance, that manages to capture with great detail all the events that occur in  the movie.

And brilliant cinematography just completes the package. A huge recommendation.

DVD from Amazon

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Genre: Action, Drama, War














In the end of 2003 Silmido, a movie about South and North relationships, shook the South Korean box office, but not giving it even a few month of rest, another bomb was dropped upon South Korean viewers in early 2004, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo), similarly themed film, directed by Je-kyu Kang of his Shiri fame, that beat all the prior set records. One third of South Korea population attended cinema to watch this film according to number of admissions.

It's 1950, two brothers, Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) and eldest Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) are spending ordinary time in streets of Seoul, living together with their mother and fiance of Jin-tae - Young-shin Kim (Eun-ju Lee). Peaceful life ends when North invades, and family is forced to leave their homes. Due to some unlucky circumstances both brothers found themselves on a train that's heading towards the battlefield. Cruel realities of war now become part of them.

Revisiting events set almost exactly 50 years in past, director managed to grab attention of Korean public with this epic war drama. Often called Korean Saving Private Ryan, and not without a reason, they both share that gruesome depiction of war, cruelty served by both sides and magnitude in which the scale of the war is portrayed, be it special effects or actor performances. Even the visual styles of the movie are really similar.
But most importantly they share similar, personal stories of the people involved. Comparable even in the way it is presented in the movie, starting with nowadays, showing survivors who share their memories and tell their stories, followed by dive in the past, where these memories are being replayed.

Films original Korean titles contains the names of flags of both neighboring countries, as a symbolic gesture towards their once shared unity.

Its should be mentioned that this movie is one of the final works of beautiful and talented actress Eun-ju Lee, who sadly committed suicide year after this film was released.

Overall, a powerful and emotionally lasting war drama. Highly recommended.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
DVD from YesAsia

2009 Lost Memories (2002)

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi, Thriller













If you are into market for science fiction, action blockbuster, 2009 Lost Memories is right down your alley. Directed by Si-myung Lee, it took more than 2 years of production, and cost around 7 million dollars to film this movie, which is a huge budget for a Korean film, making it most expensive movie of the year.

Set in alternative future, year 2009, where Japan has annexed Korea, fought and won World War 2 on allied side, and is a super power on global stage. Two Japanese Bureau of Investigation agents Masayuki Sakamoto (Dong-gun Jang) and Shojiro Saigo (Toru Nakamura) are sent to investigate incident at art museum, where underground anti government organization Hureisenjin had taken hostages during exhibition of antiques organized by Inoue Foundation. Investigating this terror act, agents found clues that point how Seoul might really not be a part of Japan, and how reality they know might not be the "right" one. Maybe even the history can be changed?



Quite clever plot with good flow that keeps entertaining every minute won't leave you bored while watching this spectacular fight for the future. Fans of action films should not be scared by excessive sci-fi elements, movie while set in alternative future is grounded in reality, so don't expect flying cars and lazer blasters.

A quality blockbuster with interesting look on history, great action and fun sci-fi elements.

DVD from Amazon.
DVD from YesAsia.