Regarded by many as one of the first classics to come out of the Korean new wave, ‘Friend’ has proven itself to stand the tests of time much more so than many of its contemporaries made around the same period. At one point it was the highest grossing Korean movie of all time, and deservedly won a bunch of awards at various film festivals and ceremonies.
Telling the story of four friends spanning from their days in school together, to their journey into adulthood during the 1970’s, the characters are played by Yoo Oh-seong (‘Attack the Gas Station / 주유소 습격사건’, ‘Champ / 챔프’), Jang Dong-gun (‘The Warrior’s Way / 워리어스 웨이’, ‘Taegukgi / 태극기 휘날리며’), Seo Tae-hwa (‘Public Enemy / 공공의 적’, ‘A Better Tomorrow / 무적자’), & Jeong Woon-taek (‘My Boss, My Hero / 두사부일체’, ‘City of Damnation / 유감스러운 도시’).
‘Friend’ immediately sets itself aside from most Korean movies, not only from around the time it was made, but even now, by having its story unfold on the streets of Busan rather than in the bustling metropolis of Seoul. This alone gives the movie a look and feel that’s unique amongst most Korean cinematic output, and is complimented by the actors using Busan’s own heavily accented dialect. The only other movies I can recall to have been set in the seaside town are ‘A Better Tomorrow /무적자’ and ‘Bloody Ties /사생결단’, although undoubtedly there’s more.