Righteous Ties [거룩한 계보]
Jeong Jae-Young, Jeong Jun-Ho, Ryu Seung-Yong, Jang Young-Nam, Min Ji-Hwan
Action, Drama, Crime
DVD, VCD, VHS
An eccentric but faithful mafia, Chi-sung is sent to prison for his part in a gang fight. But when his parents are attacked by a rival mob and his own people take no action, he realizes that a decade of loyalty towards the gang has become futile. Determined to confront his own boss, he finds a way to escape from prison with his fellow inmates. Meanwhile, his friend Joo-joong is given the task to stop Chi-sung, forcing him to choose between the bond of friendship and loyalty towards the gang.
Gangsters come and go, but friends are forever.
Korean films are known for their gangster movie and they can take themselves too seriously or not at all. It’s refreshing to come across a gangster movie that is less about the Mafia and more about the people involved. Righteous Ties takes this a step further and concentrates on three childhood friends and how their ties to each other are even stronger than their ties to the Mafia or an aging boss looking for a way out. Director Jang Jin (“Murder, Take One” and “Guns and Talks”) takes an unconventional approach by concentrating on betrayal and double crossing within the mafia. Jang refers to the Mafia as a “company” which serves to point out the growing trend of organized crime as being established, and with set hiarchies and internal politics. Jang also uses comedy to help lighten the mood of the film to set it apart from typical grim, dark, mafia movies. Certainly a bold and colorful cast of supporting characters helps to achieve this with moderate success.
The cinematography is excellent and at times switches to a handheld style with good closeups that is effective in setting up the right emotions. Jeong Jae-yeong (“Guns n Talks”, “Silmido”, “My Captain, Mr. Underground”) does an excellent job of portraying a stubborn, driven, yet compassionate gangster. By concentrating on the steadfast bond of friendship even in the face of betrayal, and misplaced loyalties, Jang manages to strike a chord in us and that is that love among friends is a strong force to be reckoned with.