In small town Korea, circa 1982, teen rake, Joong Gil (Lee Jong Suk) works his way through the girls in his school, while studiously avoiding female gang leader, Young Sook (Park Bo Young). When Joong Gil sets out to conquer a sweet-looking transfer student, Young Sook places Joong Gil in her romance cross hairs, while the gang leader of the rival high school attempts to claim Young Sook as his girlfriend.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★
Only 만: ★★★
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Let us preface this review by admitting that we originally intended to watch Friend: The Great Legacy with Kim Woo Bin. We gave up after we lost track of the plot and were horrified by the violence. We switched to Hot Blooded Youth only to be horrified by the violence towards the end of that movie, too.
Only 만: I was more horrified by Lee Jong Suk’s pants. But, yes, he did spend much of the latter half of the movie bleeding.
중국어 캐나다: It started off lighthearted enough with Lee Jong Suk playing slimy small town player, Joong Gil, and Park Bo Young as the resident bad ass, Young Sook. It’s amazing how unappealing the film made him; Joong Gil is lazy in his seduction strategy, a coward in any altercation, and a cad towards his conquests. Meanwhile, Young Sook is all physical intimidation, even when it comes to enticing Joong Gil to use his romance tactics on her.
만: And then, it got serious, and bounced back and forth between the two extremes before finally settling on a parody ending. I wasn’t even sure if the final scene was really happening or if one of the characters was imagining it.
중국어 캐나다: It felt like the filmmakers did not have courage to finish what they had started, and resorted to the cinematic equivalent of, “Just kidding!” I wouldn’t have minded the dramatic turn if it didn’t become so serious and violent. It was a very jarring turn of events.
만: It was pretty incoherent at times, like a pastiche of 80s movies, without any consistent tone. But, Lee Jong Suk was surprisingly entertaining.
중국어 캐나다: Well, I’m biased, being a Lee Jong Suk fan, but I’ve always found him very good at comedy and turning on the charm. I just wish he would stop doing melodrama. I’m watching “Doctor Stranger” right now, and it is the same problem as Hot Blooded Youth in that the gulf between comedy and melodrama appears insurmountable for him.
만: Yeah, it’s pretty far from a seamless mesh of the two genres, but he carried the comedy pretty well. Not only that, it was kind of nice having a bad ass lead female in Young Sook, though I was disappointed to find that fighting between two women was inevitably depicted as hair-pulling. And, I couldn’t get behind her stalker tendencies being cast as tenacity in love.
중국어 캐나다: Yes, the beatings that Young Sook and Joong Gil took were torture: not entertaining, and kind of gratuitous considering the tone of the rest of the movie. Add Lee Jong Suk’s overacting, and it made the scenes leading up to the finale painful.
만: Agreed. Though on a comedic level, I enjoyed his rampage through Young Sook’s family house and his insane attack on the thuggish Gwang Sik, played by unbelievably tall Kim Young Kwang.
중국어 캐나다: That’s because you’re a bit of a jerk.
만: No question. Nothing beats a good old fashioned melodramatic breakdown for a laugh.
중국어 캐나다: Did the secondary characters make any impression on you?
만: So Hee (Lee Se Young) was a bit of a blank. First, she was the girl of Lee Jong Suk’s dreams, and then she turned out to be a delinquent, but beyond that, nothing much. Gwang Sik fared only slightly better, though I enjoyed his masculine posturing in his ridiculous, bell-bottomed school uniform. Everybody else was pretty much background scenery, though I was amused to recognize one of the ‘teenagers’ from “Hello My Teacher” playing Joong Gil’s friend; playing a teenager well into your 30s should be applauded. Or mocked.
중국어 캐나다: I enjoyed how they made So Hee a caricature of the ailing flower of femininity then have her turn around with fighting gloves on. I just wish they did more with the reveal, because she kind of dropped from sight after that. Gwang Sik was underused, too. Again, an entertaining gender caricature, but he became overly dark by the end.
만: Yeah, Gwang Sik really didn’t take rejection well. The only moment of humanity the poor guy had was when he asked Young Sook if she’d ever liked him. And then, straight back to the gangster stereotype. Any empathy you might have felt at that point was undercut by the fact that he had Young Sook beat up, and tried to rape So Hee.
중국어 캐나다: Now that I think about it, the leads, Young Sook and Joong Gil defied social expectations: she was a violent thug, and he was a wimpy cad. By the end, she’s the one taking a beating and working in a factory, and he becomes capable of throwing punches, then saves her from a life of mindless labour. Does this thought make the ending even more disappointing?
만: It does. The tacked-on homage to An Officer and a Gentleman just undercut all that without being funny.
중국어 캐나다: Having said all this, I must admit that I still enjoyed the movie. I suppose I just enjoy watching Lee Jong Suk in any comedic situation. However, the film had a cheeky attitude that I enjoyed; it ridiculed every character mercilessly.
만: Agreed; no one came off as cool in this movie, which was fun. I think if the darker parts hadn’t gotten quite so dark, then I could have enjoyed it even more.
중국어 캐나다: By the way, I am going to give my two cents regarding the first half of Friend: The Great Legacy. Viewers really need to watch the first movie, Friend to understand the plot of the sequel. Kim Woo Bin was hotter as Young Do in “The Heirs”; he does high class bully better than low rent thug. In addition to the violence, the bad tattoo painted on his back will be my lasting memory of that movie.
만: I was too confused by the flashbacks to even understand what was going on with him. But, his hair looked good and that’s the important thing.
Friend: The Great Legacy
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★ (for the first half, but I have faith that I would have added a second star if I had finished the movie)
Only 만: ★★★ (Kim Woo Bin’s hair garnered all three of these stars)