Friday, November 17, 2017

Film Review—Friend 2: The Great Legacy (2013)

Friend 2: The Great Legacy (Review)
South Korea/2013
Format Viewed for Review: DramaFever
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"'s still an adequate crime film—you'll find plenty of shady deals, brawls, and violence—but it's not the sequel it could have been."

Seventeen years after the events of the first movie, Lee Joon-suk (Yu Oh-seung) is released from prison after serving time for ordering the assassination of his friend.

Friend 2: The Great Legacy is often a hit-or-miss film. The plot is a follow-up to the 2001 crime classic. You should definitely watch the original film before this. The story follows Lee Joon-suk, who is serving time for his friend's assassination. As he prepares to leave, we're introduced to Choi Sung-hoon (Kim Woo-bin), a young man who has fallen to a life of crime after living a troubled childhood. Sung-hoon ends up in the same jail as Joon-suk, so, at the request of Sung-hoon's mother, Joon-suk takes the young man under his wing. However, all is not well beyond the prison walls. When he's released Joon-suk finds that his subordinate has taken control of his gang. So, together, Joon-suk and Sun-hoon set out to set things straight. It leads to an underwhelming climax. The ending is compelling, though.

Friend 2: The Great Legacy was a good but disappointing movie, especially when compared to the original. The plot doesn't have the same character, themes, or effectiveness. It works as a crime film, but it doesn't exactly resonate. This is because it's often not all that focused. During some scenes, the plot retells the event of the first film and covers Lee Joon-suk; during others, it's focused on the history of his gang; then, there are moments where it focuses on Choi Sung-hoon's troubled childhood. It obviously offers quite a bit of plot and character, but it feels like it's all over the place. It's frequently jumping from one era to another then another. Ultimately, it ends up weakening the impact of the film and creating a sloppy experience. Like I said, it's still an adequate crime film—you'll find plenty of shady deals, brawls, and violence—but it's not the sequel it could have been.

The acting is mostly great. Yu Oh-seung reprises his role as Lee Joon-suk and he delivers a great performance. He was great in the original and in movies like Champion, too. Kim Woo-bin plays the pretty-boy gangster well, too. The supporting cast was strong. The film was shot well. I wasn't a big fan of all of the music, though. I didn't feel like it matched the tone of the film. It's not as good as the soundtrack from the original film, either. The movie was written by Kwak Kyung-taek and Han Seung-woon. Kyung-taek also directs. The writing and direction would have been improved with a more consistent story and even a longer runtime. Nonlinear films are fine, I have no problem with flashbacks, but they felt intrusive in this film. Otherwise, the film is competently made.

Overall, Friend 2: The Great Legacy isn't quite great. It's a good crime film, it may even make you shed a tear, but it often underwhelms. It's a solid rental/stream for fans of the genre, but don't expect a compelling character-driven drama like the original.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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