|Revised Romanization||Gangnam 1970|
|Directed by||Yoo Ha|
|Produced by||Yoo Ha |
|Written by||Yoo Ha|
|Music by||Jo Yeong-wook|
|Cinematography||Kim Tae-seong |
|Edited by||Park Gok-ji|
|Box office||US$16.1 million|
Gangnam Blues (Hangul: 강남 1970; lit. Gangnam 1970) is a 2015 South Korean noir action film written and directed by Yoo Ha, and starring Lee Min-ho and Kim Rae-won. The film is set in the 1970s against the backdrop of the real estate development of Seoul's Gangnam district amidst socio-political turmoil and terrorism. The friendship of two childhood friends is tested as they find themselves entangled in the collusion and battles between political powers and criminal organizations.
In the 1970s, during the height of political corruption, Gangnam, the southern part of Seoul, is starting to be transformed into a developed area. Childhood friends Jong-dae and Yong-ki struggle to get by, until their shanty homes are demolished by local thugs. Desperate for cash, they get involved in violent political clashes, and are separated during one of the skirmishes. Three years later, Jong-dae lives as an adopted son of former gang leader Gil-soo and unknown to him a small-time gangster. Meanwhile, Yong-ki has raised as a made man inside Seoul's most powerful criminal organization, the Myeongdong-pa under Yang Ki-taek. Jong-dae meets foxy Min Seong-hee and is entangled in real estate business from tips Min Seong-hee gets from Park Seung-gu they enter into bigger business. Jong-dae finally meets Yong-ki and they together hatch plans to co-operate and become rich. Min Seong-hee introduces Jong-dae to a disgraced politician, Seo Tae-gon, who still has political controls and they plan to raise him back to the political arena. They enter high-stakes battle going over land in Gangnam, by other political parties to fund secret presidential election and slush funds and drives up the plot-value of the city from inside information about future plan to turn Gangnam as an extended part of the capital. As the gangs fight over the rights to various plots and to maintain power structure, Yong-ki betrays his people and eliminates opposition with Jong-dae. Yong-ki who had to save his skin from suspicion of his boss kills Gil-soo. Jong-dae realizes this and keeps an eye on him. Meanwhile, Yong-ki's gang motivates him to overthrow Jong-dae and take over the whole operation when it is all over. After Seo Tae-gon's final mission they face each other and Jong-dae threatens Yong-ki to disappear and eliminates his gang members. Seo Tae-gon, to turn a new leaf in his career, recruits two new goons as his henchmen and puts them in charge to assassinate both Jong-dae and Yong-ki and they do so while Seo Tae-gon announces his nominee-ship for election and dances with Min Seong-hee. The ruling government declares its intent to adjoin Gagnam to its capital. After years an aged Seo Tae-gon addresses the developed city of Gangnam about his commitment to the city.
- Lee Min-ho as Kim Jong-dae 
- Kim Rae-won as Baek Yong-ki
- Jung Jin-young as Kang Gil-soo
- Kim Ji-soo as Min Seong-hee
- Kim Seolhyun as Kang Seon-hye 
- Yoo Seung-mok as Seo Tae-gon
- Han Jae-young as Park Chang-bae
- Jung Ho-bin as Yang Ki-taek
- Choi Jin-ho as Park Seung-gu
- Um Hyo-sup as Kim Jung-kyu
- Heo Seong-min as Jae-pil
- Kim Yoo-yeon as Jeom-soon
- Ji Dae-han as Chang Deok-jae
- Choi Byung-mo as Section chief Mun
- Lee Seok as Chun-ho
- Kwak Min-ho as Min-kyu
- Jeon Bae-su as Chairman Gu
- Park Min-gyu as Cheol-seung
- Jang In-ho as Myeong-chun
- Park Hyeok-min as Gyeong-pyo
- Jo Mun-ui as Saudi Kim
- Park Tong-il as Mayor of Seoul
This was the final film in director-screenwriter Yoo Ha's "street series" trilogy, after Once Upon a Time in High School (2004) and A Dirty Carnival (2006). He called it "a story about people who are used, then discarded, about lives that are, like the buildings they live in, unauthorized. [...] represents the obsession over land ― land from which we are born, to which we return when we die. It is a feast of all things wretched."
Yoo originally didn't want to cast Lee Min-ho in the leading role, finding Lee's breakout performance in TV series Boys Over Flowers "a bit cheesy" and that the actor was "so handsome he was like a manhwa character." But after being convinced by his wife, Yoo realized the potentially huge impact of "flower boy" actors completely transforming their image, and together they collaborated to "burn to the ground" Lee's previous screen persona as a chaebol's son. Lee filmed a sex scene with actress Kim Ji-soo, but it was not included in the final cut because Yoo felt it was unnecessary to the flow of the film.
Yoo also asked actor Kim Rae-won to shed 15 kilograms since his character works as a rag man in the beginning of the film; Kim lost the weight in one month, which he said also made his fist-fighting scenes as a gangster more realistic.
Gangnam Blues was released in 684 theaters in South Korea on January 21, 2015. Despite its "restricted" rating, it topped the box office on its opening day, with 152,500 tickets sold. Within 5 days, it had reached the 1 million admission mark (1,097,103). After 35 days of release, the film recorded 2.19 million admissions.
The film was released with a different cut for the Chinese market in March 2015, in order to capitalize on Lee Min-ho's big fan base in the region. The new cut included more scenes of Lee, including those further developing the relationship between Lee's character and his love interest (played by Kim Ji-soo), as well as an alternate ending.
Modern Korean Cinema's Pierce Conran called the film "an evocative and immensely entertaining saga that pits a common tale of brotherhood and betrayal against a thrilling period setting mired in violence and corruption" and praised it as "one of the most beautifully designed and lushly filmed Korean productions ever made." He found Lee Min-ho "thoroughly convincing as a rising gangster with a cool exterior and emotional core," but that Kim Rae-won's performance had "a little less depth," yet nevertheless was Kim's best performance since 2006's Sunflower, in which he also played a gangster.
Awards and nominations
|51st Paeksang Arts Awards ||Best New Actor||Nominated|
|Best New Actress||Nominated|
|Most Popular Actor||Won|
|19th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival ||Producers' Choice Award||Won|
|52nd Grand Bell Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|Best New Actress||Nominated|
|36th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best New Actor||Nominated|
|Best New Actress||Nominated|
|Popular Star Award||Won|
|5th Marie Claire Film Festival||Rookie Award||Won|
|11th Max Movie Awards||Rising Star Award||Won|
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