Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time
PRODS Park Shingyu, Han Jaedeok
SCR Yoon Jongbin
CAM Ko Raksun
EDS Kim Sangbum, Kim Jaebum
PROD DES Cho Hwasung
MUS Cho Youngwuk
PROD CO Pallete Pictures / Showbox / Mediaplex Inc
Not nameless, actually. His name is Choi Ikhyun, and he’s played by the magnificent Choi Minsik (star of Oldboy). But director Yoon Jongbin argues that he might as well be anonymous, since he so completely reflects the social and political conditions that made someone like him possible.
We first encounter Choi as a corrupt customs officer in Busan in 1982; the Gwangju massacre was only two years before, and the South Korean government is effectively a military dictatorship. Forced out of his job, Choi goes into a brains-and-brawn alliance with a local thug. They muscle in on nightclub-protection racketeering, but that’s a mere prelude to their dream of the big money which comes from running a casino. Choi becomes a daebu—a godfather. It’s only when they’re basking in success (and when President Roh Taewoo declares war on organized crime) that the thieves begin to fall out…
Yoon leaves his indie-film origins far behind in this powerhouse entertainment, the highest-grossing film of the year to date in South Korea. It has obvious debts to Coppola and Scorsese, but the sardonic, satirical tone is all Yoon’s own: the closing scene provides a political sting in the tail. Exhilarating fun.
— Tony Rayns