Article by Jazmin Justo
NYAFF2016 paired up with the Korean Cultural Center of NY to bring the newest cinema from their ingenious directors featuring the best actors of South Korea Lee Byung-hun, Yoo Ah-in, Park Jung-Min, and others.
Actor Lee Byung-hun made an appearance at the premiere of the newest crime-thriller film “Inside Men”. Known as South Korea’s “Tom Cruise”, he has accomplished many first in his career including being the first Asian to present an award at the 2015 Academy Oscars. At NYAFF, Lee Byung-hun was presented the Star Asia Award for his continuous contributions to cinema. Actor Lee Byung-hun gave his thanks to NYAFF, to his supporters and to his wife, who made a short appearance on stage.
“Inside Men” is based on the popular manhwa in Korea with the same title. The author of the webtoon, Yoon Tae-ho, is also famous for his story “Moss” which became a blockbuster hit in 2010 and “Misaeng”, which became a drama series in 2014. “Inside Men” is an intense story about the corruption scheme between corporate leaders, journalists, gangsters and a prosecutor that wants to take them all to the justice room. The main protagonist, An Sang-gu, is a gangster who has received many benefits as a middleman for congressman Jang Pil-woo and journalist Lee Gang-hee, both powerful influences in their businesses. Jang Pil-woo in the film is a forerunner in South Korea’s elections. During this campaign, An Sang-gu is caught stealing the secret documents of the slush fund that Jang Pil-woo and Lee Gang-hee share. The prosecutor, Woo Jang-hoon, has caught rumors about the secret documents and allies himself with An Sang-gu to find the evidence. An Sang-gu is determined to get the ultimate revenge and plots out a scheme of his own while helping the prosecutor. Meanwhile, the politician and journalist are always one step ahead of them, throwing the prosecutor and gangster off course and back to square one. It takes wits, undercover spying, and risks from all sides to expose the larger than life corruption scheme. The film is intense emotionally and in content. There are many characters and details
to keep in mind such as the henchmen and their roles in the scheme. The film does its best to incorporate a balance of humor and crime thriller moments before transitioning to intense action.
Before the film,there was a Q&A with Samuel Jamier, the NYAFF co-founder and Lee Byung-hun about his character in “Inside Men”. He noted that the gangster he plays changed from the original character to add more realism and a bit of comic relief, such as when he drops his cell phone when trying to run away from a henchman and eating the ramen noodles. He also spoke briefly about the “Magnificent Seven”, “The ‘Magnificent Seven’ is a remake of the 1960’s western classic but (Director) Antoine remade it with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and a lot of great actors. This was amazing because I didn’t expect that I could participate in a Western movie. But historically there was a lot of Chinese people at the time so I was so happy and felt really great, cause I grew up watching those kinds of western films since I was five, six. So that was a great moment in my life.”