The first official look at the upcoming period noir Korean gangster movie Gangnam Blues is out. It likely wouldn’t be high on most viewers’ radar if the drama wasn’t starring Lee Min Ho and would marked a major shift in his acting repertoire. But for fans of K-cinema this movie is high on the must-check-out list because it’s helmed by critically acclaimed movie director Yoo Ha. He isn’t just the creative mind and vision behind box office hits, he also helmed one of the most popular gangster noir K-movies in the last decade with A Dirty Carnival. That’s the movie which transitioned Jo In Sung from soft pretty flower boy to dark gritty gangster. Later Yoo Ha re-teamed with Jo In Sung for A Frozen Flower which is as envelope pushing as it gets in discussing taboo subjects and indulging in very explicit cinematography.
I think Yoo Ha is as good a directorial guide for Lee Min Ho finally breaking out of his safe comfortable acting zone, in addition to having as his costar Kim Rae Won who I think actually has the dark acting streak in him despite his sunshine smile and nice guy onscreen image. Gangnam Blues tells the story of land development in the Gangnam district of Seoul during the 1970s and how a group of gang rivals battled it out for territorial supremacy. I’m expecting lots of blood and fights to unfold onscreen, and the first peek at Lee Min Ho shows him bloodied in a seemingly post-fight stance. I actually find Kim Rae Won’s first movie still much more riveting than Lee Min Ho, better capturing the coiled intensity of a dangerous gangster. Gangnam Blues has wrapped filming already and is scheduled for a year end release.