K-film at the BFI London Film Fest: Nameless Gangster outstays its welcome

What a disappointment. One of Korea’s biggest grossing films this year is just not good enough. It’s a perfectly acceptable gangster flick, but is as bloated as Choi Min-sik, who must have eaten a serious number of pies to get to his fighting weight for this film. The plot is rather charming in the way Choi’s character uses the family registry to call in favours from the Gyeongju Choi clan, but why someone chose “Nameless Gangster” for the English title of a film whose Korean name is roughly Crime and war: the golden age of the bad guys, and where a significant plot point is the central character’s name and family connections, is a mystery.

Larger than life: Choi Min-sik as Choi Ik-hyeon
Larger than life: Choi Min-sik as Choi Ik-hyeon, the gangster with an over-inflated sense of his abilities

The plot never feels slow, and there’s plenty of action and tension, but really there’s too much of it. It’s not a bad film, and indeed it respects the genre very well, but despite Choi’s strong performance as the rather likeable amateur, and some of the 1980s period detail, there are far better ways to spend two and a quarter hours of your time.

Yoon Jong-bin (윤종빈): Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time (범죄와의 전쟁: 나쁜놈들 전성시대, 2012). SterneSterneSterneSterneSterne

3 thoughts on “K-film at the BFI London Film Fest: Nameless Gangster outstays its welcome

  1. I simply loved A Fish. But I don’t know why. And I don’t know how to review it. I’d really like to see it again, but the wilds of Hackney late on a Saturday night doesn’t appeal.

    How about you?

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