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[Preview] Nameless Gangster is All about the Acting

Rating Rating more One Star

2012.01.27 14:00 Mwave Lee, JinHo

Will this film be the film to announce the coming of the Renaissance of gangster films? Nameless Gangster is an interesting film on so many different levels.

At some points it feels like Ocean′s Eleven, while at another it feels like Friend. Anyway, it doesn’t change that it’s a film reeking with gangster-ness.

Director Yoon Jong Bin, however, argues, “It’s not glamorizing gangsters; it’s a film that represents the fathers of our age.”

A gangster film that represents fathers...I was curious on what kind of film it would be and delved into Nameless Gangster.

[Preview] Nameless Gangster is All about the Acting


There is a corrupted customs officer (Choi Min Sik). He leads an underdog life after being pushed out with all of the responsibility in a sudden inspection.

Then, his life turns around after meeting the gangster Choi Hyung Bae (Ha Jung Woo). A gangster’s life, however, is coldblooded and harsh. He, who is called a half-moon (living with just half his life in the underworld), lives his life tangled with gangsters.

[Preview] Nameless Gangster is All about the Acting

The charms of ′Nameless Gangster′

The caption at the beginning of the film clearly states that ‘All figures and incidents which appear in this film are fictional.’ The film, however, is modeled entirely on fact.

In the 70s and 80s, gangsters enjoyed their prime. The film covers the time period after that, when the gangsters came to fall after Presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo waged war on them in the 80s and 90s.

The battle between Choi Min Sik and Ha Jung Woo in this forest of facts is the biggest sight to see in this film. Ha Jung Woo’s charisma against Choi Min Sik’s underhandedness. The thought that there may as well have been a figure like that for real back then shook up my thoughts during the 133 minutes I was watching the film. The actors’ acting shone that much.

To this mix, add Jo Jin Woong, who was praised by director Yoon for being so much like a real gangster, Kwak Do Won as the prosecutor and the new face Kim Sung Gyun. I could’ve given this film perfect marks for the actors alone.

Nostalgic hit songs that represent the 80s, such as Ham Jung Ah and the Yankee’s I Heard it Through the Grapevine and Lee Myung Hun’s The Way It Is, arm this film to seep through your memories and send you back into the old days.

But there were weaknesses

If you look closely at the reason gangster films were so big during the last 10 years, you can see that the glamorization of gangsters was at its base. Images of men and lowlifes trying to hold true to their loyalty appealed greatly to male audiences.

In this aspect, Nameless Gangster falls short. It’s too realistic when it tries to tell the stories of the lives of gangsters, betraying each other and destroying others’ lives just for themselves and their families. The director’s wish to not make it seem like a gangster film was fulfilled, but it didn’t satisfy those who had come in for the film looking forward to seeing at least some bragging and showing off.

The story of gangsters connected to power, especially politics, through blood relations and regionalism, was also so realistic it didn’t let the film appeal as what it was: a film. It made its audiences see things they worry about in reality on screen again.

[Preview] Nameless Gangster is All about the Acting

One Line Summary/Score

If you want to see the actors act, OK. If you want something more, NO.

Photo credit: Nameless Gangster

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Ha Jung Woo 20120127 Choi Min Sik 20120127 Nameless Gangster 20120127
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