With middle age creeping up on him, the life and achievements of amiable, mid-level Korean gangster Kang In-gu are about due for an objective assessment. He’s certainly not in top streetfighting form anymore, and the young thugs under his command aren’t exactly an elite troop of criminals. Moreover, his wife is running out of patience with his career choice and the lack of social finesse it entails, and his dearly loved daughter is embarrassed beyond words by her often uncouth dad (but then, aren’t all teenagers?). Kang’s dream is to buy one of those impressive, Western-style suburban homes, in which domestic peace may at last blossom.
But his headaches at home are matched by even more sinister developments in the criminal underworld he inhabits. Kang is highly esteemed by his boss, who favours him over his own brother -- an underling to Kang, seething with resentment. A conflict with another gang puts Kang and his childhood buddy on opposite sides of the fence. The fact is, Kang just wants everything to work out right for everyone –- and we all know which road is paved with good intentions… the road to hell.
Having proven his knack for witty and involved storytelling with 2005’s Rules of Dating, writer/director Han Jae-rim brings his capable and original vision to the gangster genre, with impressive results. Yes, yes, there’s plenty of rough, bloody action –- who does it better than Koreans these days? –- but more importantly, The Show Must Go On revolves around a rock-solid central performance by Song Kang-ho, likely the best-know Korean film face, internationally, given the explosive success of The Host (Fantasia regulars will also know him from Joint Security Area, Shiri, The Foul King, The Quiet Family and of course Park Chan-Wook’s groundbreaking Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance). Han’s lively and unpredictable script demands a careful balance of gritty toughness, sweet warmth, exceptional comedic skills and, as the final act unfolds, powerful pathos. Song and his collaborators deliver it all.
WINNER : Best Screenplay (Han Jae-rim), Fantasia 2007
WINNER : Best Actor (Song Kang-ho), Fantasia 2007
Director: Han Jae-rim
Screenplay: Han Jae-rim
Cast: Song Kang-ho
Producers: Kang Tae-woo, Jung Young-joo, Kim Kwang-seop
Distributor: Lotte Entertainment