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Jung Woo returns to big screen as gangster in noir film ‘Hot Blooded’

“Hot Blooded” cast members Ji Seung-hyun, Jung Woo and Lee Hong-nae pose before a press conference at Yongsan CGV in Seoul on Wednesday. (Kidari Studio)
“Hot Blooded” cast members Ji Seung-hyun, Jung Woo and Lee Hong-nae pose before a press conference at Yongsan CGV in Seoul on Wednesday. (Kidari Studio)
Jung Woo, who rose to stardom with tvN drama “Reply 1994,” is returning to the big screen as third-rate gangster Hee-su in the noir film “Hot Blooded,” directed by Cheon Myoung-kwan.

“‘Hot Blooded’ has its own unique mood. When I read the script -- it is difficult to describe it in words -- but I felt some sort of attraction,” Jung said at a press conference held at Yongsan CGV in Seoul on Wednesday.

He explained that what set this new movie apart from other Korean crime action films is that it does not try to glamorize the toughness of gangsters.

“The movie shows them as human beings. I also tried to show the humanity that he (Hee-su) has instead of performing as a member of a crime group,” Jung added.

The film is based on a popular novel with the same title written by Kim Un-su. It is set in 1993 in Kuam, a small port town just outside Busan where Hee-su (Jung) was born and raised. Hee-su is a third-rate gangster in the area who has been acting like a hotel manager under Don Son (Kim Kap-soo) for 20 years. One day, Yong-kang (Choi Mu-sung), who fled the country as a murder suspect, returns home and begins causing trouble.

Jung said it was meaningful to film in his hometown area of Busan, but that he could not enjoy the city to the fullest.

“I am always happy to film in Busan. I always get positive energy from the city,” Jung said. “Before we starting filming, I thought that since my family and friends are in Busan and I am staying for two months, I would have some fun. But after the shooting started I had to focus on the character so I could not think of anything else.”

The director Cheon also talked about why he chose to set the film in Busan.

A still from “Hot Blooded,” directed by Cheon Myoung-kwan (Kidari Studio)
A still from “Hot Blooded,” directed by Cheon Myoung-kwan (Kidari Studio)
“When you think of Busan, you can easily come up with many Korean noir films, so it might seem obvious. But our film is different. The gangsters in the movie do not always dress up in suits and also they fight for this small port city in Busan that is not developed,” Cheon said.

He added that the city seemed right for showing gangsters’ desperate survival stories.

Ji Seung-hyun, who played Cheol-jin, a childhood friend of Hee-su who later turns against him, said that one of the elements that differentiates “Hot Blooded” is that it is based on a novel.

“I think it brought the 600-page novel to the big screen pretty well. You can feel the emotions that you feel when reading the book in our movie,” Ji said. “Also, if you are into literature, you can have fun comparing the book and the movie.”

Toward the end of the conference, Jung briefly talked about films of two co-stars of “Reply 1994” -- Yoo Yeon-seok and Son Ho-jun -- which are also coming out soon.

Yoo’s thriller “Vanishing” will be released March 30 and Son’s comedy “Stellar” will hit local theaters on April 6.

“What a coincidence. I hope that all three films do well. They are all in different genres and have their own charms,” Jung said.

“Hot Blooded” hits local theaters Wednesday.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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