It took six years before Lee Min Ho finally starred in his first lead role for film. And it is definitely worth the wait.
His portrayal of a gangster in Gangnam Blues (2015) can be described as a second breakthrough for the Korean actor despite his superstar status in his homeland and for sure, here in the Philippines.
The film, which is about the political and economic transformation of the Gangnam province to a district of Seoul in the 1970s, is now showing at the SineAsia Theater in select SM Cinemas. SineAsia is a partnership between SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. and Viva International Pictures that features Tagalized Asian blockbusters from around the region.
On March 3, Gangnam Blues premiered at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, and even with the absence of Lee Min Ho, young fans still flocked to the cinema to support their idol.
As the movie turned dark and depressing, this writer wondered how those youngsters felt to see Lee Min Ho in such a serious role. It will be remembered that he shot to fame in the Philippines via romantic Koreanovela roles, the most popular among them as Gyu Jun Pyo in Boys Over Flowers (2009).
Nevertheless, Lee Min Ho proved he is indeed an actor in his portrayal of a homeless and poor orphan named Ragmen Jong-dae in the Gangnam district.
Living with his brother in a shanty, they lose their home because of a new development, which forces them to join separate gangs just to survive. As Jong-dae struggles to find a home and a family finds a father figure in his gang leader, which ironically leads him to more trouble.
As a gangster ready to kill at will, Jong-dae soon encounters his long lost brother who becomes both his trusted ally and his worst enemy.
There are barely any romantic scenes involving Lee Min Ho throughout the movie, which may just signal the end of his rom-com days. But, he fits the mold of a mature actor, who is even tasked to get physical in many rigorous fight scenes and stunts. He succeeds both in expressing emotion and bring on the on action.
Directed by Yoon Ha, Gangnam Blues, is actually the final installment of his “Street Trilogy.” It is based true events with fictional characters, which makes for an interesting study of corruption in a country as progressive as South Korea. In this way, the movie is somehow reminiscent of the Filipino film, On the Job (Gerald Anderson) by director Erik Matti towards the end.
All in all, Gangam Blues is worth watching—that is if you’re ready to see Lee Min Ho sans his K-Pop look and his “kilig” factor.
Gangnam Blues is now showing at SineAsia Theater at SM Megamall, SM Sta, Mesa, SM Fairview, SM Manila and SM North Edsa.