masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Rules of the Gangs 건달의 법칙

14059.jpgThousands of video’s with gangster movies on them must be running the risk of extinction in South Korea. The friendly neighborhood video shop has lost the battle with the South Korean version of Blockbusters. Their stock is discarded or ends up in the hands of wholesalers. As a result, the low-budget pulpies disappear. More often than not, the original spools are gone and there is little interest (and no funds) to transfer these movies to dvd. Some of them, however, escape the quiet extinction of their kind. Rules of the Gangs is one of those movies. On its merits as a movie, it perhaps should not have been transferred to dvd. It is not a particularly good movie. As an example of its genre, however, it is more than worth preserving. The suprisingly old looking lead actor is a man of honor who has a black belt (or two) in taekwondo. So he wants to become a gangster. In a scene taken from any traditional martial arts Bildungs-movie, he harasses his local crime lord until he gains admittance and before long becomes his trusted number two. Something is rotten in the state of crime, however, and his boss is assassinated. The rest of the movie is devoted to pained, silent and tough expressions of grief by the lead character, his quest for justice (?), the consummation of his love for his late boss’ daughter and his installation as his late boss’ posthumous son. The story isn’t anything you haven’t seen before a thousand times, but the obvious sincerity and earnest of the cast and the director makes it quite bearable. The action scenes look quite okay; apparently the extra’s are all real gangsters. I wouldn’t cancel any dates to see this movie, but if you have nothing else to do or if you are determined to find out just how the samurai image inspires street thugs in South Korea, it is worth purchasing and watching.

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