Actors: Oh-Seong Yu, Jang Young-nam, Joo Jin-mo, Kim Woo-bin
Director: Kwak Gyeong-taek
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs: 1
Studio: CJ Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 16, 2014
Run Time: 121 minutes
Despite only a few of the characters remaining from the previous installment in this gangster-drama franchise, Friend II: The Legacy manages to maintain the atmosphere from the original. It is with the narrative that this sequel gets a bit tripped up, attempting to do too much in a result that feels more convoluted than a sequel should. Rather than simply worrying about the progression of the characters in the story following the first film’s events, Friend II simultaneously adds unnecessary prequel segments from one of the film’s minor characters. Despite action which exceeds the first film in excitement, this follow-up feature is missing strength in characters and relationships which made the original one the most successful films in South Korean history.
Picking up the story seventeen-years after the close of the first one, Friend II begins with Joon-seok in prison, carrying out the last of his sentence. Just before returning to the streets and his position in the gang, Joon-seok is joined in prison by Choi Sung-hoon, the son of Lee Han Dong. Having been responsible for Dong’s death despite their childhood friendship, Joon-seok feels an obligation towards his son, taking him under his wing once released from prison. Back on the street, Joon-seok discovers that his position of power has faltered in his absence, replaced by a new leader and threatened by rival gangs. Paired with the ambitious Sung-hoon and his gang of young thugs, Joon-seok makes a strategic play for power. The only thing that seems to stand between him and ultimate success is the truth about Sung-hoon’s father’s death.
As was the case with the first film, the drama and relationships between the characters is of more significance than any of the genre elements, which is particularly noticeable in the unhurried pace of the film. With a running-time just over two-hours, what violence the film does contain feels spread out. This is not a problem as much as the convoluted narrative and disjointed editing, which makes the film far more work to follow than is typically expected of a sequel.
The DVD special features include featurettes about the characters, as well as interviews with the actors who play them. There is also a generic making-of featurette and a trailer gallery.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10