From start to finish, "The Drug King" is a fun film. The acting is excellent and there is a compelling plot in everything that happens. It is often lost in the typical overdone stereotypes as well as the tired characters and missed plot developments that the movie can become sometimes repetitive. It may be because the main conflict is easily resolved or it could be that the characters have so much more depth than the audience is led to believe. However, the film is still a very watchable action tale with some very loved characters.
Russell Brand stars as the main character, David Kleinfeld, who rises from being a low-life drug dealer to become the kingpin of the drug trade. There are many different elements to the character that give him his distinctness and charm, such as his street savvy and ambition, his manipulative skills and of course the money that allows him to assume the daunting task of the drug kingpin position. The film starts in 1968, when Kleinfeld is arrested on suspicion of murder. Kleinfeld claims to be a street guy who does "what people do". Although he is wrongfully detained for 18 years, he is eventually able to turn himself in to the police and confesses to the murder.
Brand plays David Kleinfeld in the movie as the most morally perfect person you could ever ask to play such a character, which he obviously does. We soon learn that the reason is that his family was starving during the Korean War, forcing him to take on a job in order to provide them with food. When he comes home the family is no more and he realizes that it is his responsibility to rise above the circumstances to achieve anything important in his life. He decides to begin his own drug business, making use of his wealth and connections to make it a success.
While David Kleinfeld may appear to appear to be a nice man in the movie, we soon discover that he is not able to succeed unless you subliminally convince South Korean police and American agents that they are dealing with a drug lord. After he has succeeded in making this point, he then attempts to convince authorities that he is innocent employing the various methods available to him. One of his persuasive strategies is to create an untrue trail of evidence that leads the authorities in the wrong direction.
A major theme of the film is the loss of trust between the police officers and the drug kingpin. It is interesting to note that this theme is echoed throughout most of south Korea's recent history. The previous regime was often accused of corruption and inefficiency. Although Kim Il Sung's idealism seemed to have overtaken the country at first but corruption soon took over. This is the lesson to be learned While the government might appear to be doing well in the beginning however, it's often on the people (led primarily by the song yang ho) to keep the house clean.
While the film is set in and around Seoul however, many viewers have criticized it for its heavy emphasis on the characters from the North. The characters even created their own TV commercial with the same theme, which plays over Kang-ho which is the North Korean song for "cocaine." While some have suggested that this was just a commercial for the film however, others have pointed out that the drug kingpin was wearing the identical outfit that is an official North Korean prison uniform, which is identical to uniforms of the elite soldiers. There have been reports that Kim Jong-il may have been totally obsessed with the thought of wearing the same uniform, no one is quite sure.
Whatever the critics say the film received an enthusiastic response from the majority of audiences because it depicted the life of a North Korean citizen under the administration of a corrupt and corrupt government. For those of us who are not on the peninsula and are not in the peninsula, the fact that there are scenes of buses used to transport convicts across the border, while the song sung by the "Doo-si" girl is being played simultaneously is a powerful reminder of the human condition. Although the subject of drugs isn't addressed in depth in the film, the message is clear. The current situation can't be used to answer how much influence China's political system has on its citizens.
The American public will continue to watch the movie "Cocaine". It is to be seen if it demonstrates the growing issues with the American/Western relationship with drugs. The question of whether or not the Chinese government will view the film as an attempt to whitewash the Chinese role in the drug trade is to be determined. With the rise of the Korean yakuza leader maybe the public will be prepared to draw the link.