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‘The Faceless Boss’ to be a noir film about cruelty of gangster world

The early 2000s in Korean cinema was marked by an onslaught of gangster comedies, which ranged in quality but soon came under fire for glorifying criminals through their affectionate depiction of the mob.

This was followed by a period of gritty realism, with ruthless, 19-rated stories.

Director Song Chang-yong’s upcoming crime drama “The Faceless Boss” looks to maintain the realism but open it up to a wider audience.

Starring Chun Jung-myung, Jin Yi-han and Lee Si-a, it follows a mob boss on the verge of losing everything in an endless parade of conspiracies and betrayals.

“The executive producers (of this film) said that they were well informed about the gangster life, and wanted people to know that such life will end up ruining you. This was why they decided to make the film,” the director said, emphasizing that the film did not make gangsters look “fancy and cool” at all. 

“The Faceless Boss” (Joeun Haneul)
“The Faceless Boss” (Joeun Haneul)

The project to produce the film based on the story of a real-life gangster kicked off nearly nine years ago. The creators of the movie said the realistic depiction of the gangsters is what makes it stand out, compared to other gangster flicks.

Chun plays the protagonist Sang-gon, who is forced to bring down his entire family and friends in a fight to keep his position as the boss.

“Most of my roles were romance or comedy. I wanted to do ‘manly’ film and change (the public’s) perception of me. Of course, I was hooked in by the charm of the film,” said Chun, adding that he spent nearly three months preparing for the action scenes.

Jin plays the role of his right-hand man Cheol Hoi, whose key characteristic is loyalty.

“Cheol Hoi is a character who, once he is convinced that you are a good person, stands by your side no matter what,” he said.

After the heyday of gangster comedies in 2000s, accompanied by 2002 TV series “Rustic Period” that glorified early to mid-20th century gangster Kim Du-han, the next decade saw the emergence of films that went the exact opposite, describing the gritty, bloody and heartless nature of the gangster world. This includes 2013’s “New World” and 2012’s “Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time.”

But while both those two films were given Korea’s most restrictive 19 rating, Song’s new film will be available to those as young as 15.

“The film was originally intended for adult audience, with a lot of bloody scenes. But we wanted teenagers to see this film and learn not to do those things. After that, we went out to create a noir film focused on family and brotherhood,” Song said, on the film’s ratings.

“The Faceless Boss” hits local theaters on Nov. 21.

By Yoon Min-sik (