One of the all-time top-grossing films at the South Korean box office, "Friend" played at the AFI Fest in 2001 but never saw a stateside theatrical release. Writer-director Kwak Kyung-taek's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story — set against the Busan underworld — resonated with an entire generation of South Koreans, but much of its appeal eluded audiences abroad who weren't privy to that collective memory. Nevertheless, its sequel, "Friend 2: The Legacy," arrives in a dozen American theaters 12 years later, perhaps as a testament to the thriving ethnic enclaves across the nation.
Upon his release from a 17-year prison sentence, Lee Joon-suk (Yu Oh-seong) returns to find mutiny imminent within his criminal enterprise. So he recruits Choi Sung-hoon (Kim Woo-bin) — his protégé while inside the pen — to quell the uprising.
If the original "Friend" emanated "GoodFellas," "Friend 2" fancies itself the South Korean answer to "
"Friend 2: The Legacy." No MPAA rating. Running time: 2 hours, 4 minutes. At CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles, and Regal La Habra Stadium 16, La Habra.
[For the Record, 6:46 p.m. Dec. 13: An earlier version of the headline on this article incorrectly referred to this film as "Friends 2."]