By Lee Hyo-won
is the talk of the town as actor-turned director Kim Hae-gon
brings together not just one but four of the hottest Korean actors in his second feature film: hallyu stars kwon Sang-woo
(2003 SBS drama "Stairway to Heaven
") and Seung-heon ("Autumn in my Heart
" 2000 KBS2), heartthrob Ji Sung
, 2003 SBS) and bona-fide actor Kim In-kwon
"The Fate" tells the story of a group of close friends who rule the underworld of Seoul. One day they scheme to steal casino money, so they leave their mob. They almost succeed ― until Cheol-jung (Kwon) betrays them. While Wu-min (Song) is forced to go to prison on behalf of the gang, everyone's lives are torn apart by lustful desires and other mishaps. After serving his two-year term, Wu-min tries to rectify things, including reclaiming his beautiful girlfriend (Park Han-byeol
). But unfortunate twists of fate set off one misunderstanding after another, and best friends become the worst of foes.
Like his character, Wu-min, Song is making a comeback after a two-year hiatus. "It took a lot of deliberation to choose between a TV drama or movie. Movies are risky and also require a long post-production process. People suggested that I reappear as another `good guy' in a TV series, which would also please (my fans)", he told reporters following the film's press preview at a Seoul theater Monday. The large theater was heavily crowded to catch Song's first screen appearance after serving in the army.
"Many actually opposed my starring in `Fate"', he said. "But I wanted to show a new, mature image, as well show a more masculine and tough side. I also decided to star in the film because of (the director). On the surface his work appears rough and brutal, but underneath it all a warm sense of humanity prevails", he said.
While Song portrays a more romantic, "good" gangster, Kwon plays the bad one. But Kwon's character had a comic edge that kept reporters laughing throughout the screening.
"If it were a merciless villain, I wouldn't have played the part ― I have an image to maintain as an actor", Kwon said jokingly. "But in the story, Cheol-jung provides comic relief to keep the drama afloat. Making audiences laugh is a great pleasure, and (comic elements) were intentional. I only hope the audience reacts the same way (reporters) did today. Like (Song) Seung-heon, I also wanted to show off a different shade of acting, which I hope will enable me to pursue more colorful roles in the future", he said.
For Kim In-kwon
also marks a departure from the warm characters he played. For portraying a disturbed drug-addict, he said he was inspired by the movie "Requiem", and modeled his emaciated look after that of Christian Bale in "The Machinist".
Song and Kwon are known to be longtime friends in real life. They appeared together as naughty high school boys in the slapstick comedy "Make It Big
". But Song said their friendship did not help their onscreen collaboration.
"While `Make It Big
' was a fun, light piece, this was a serious project. Our amicable feelings were more of a hindrance", he said. "As for feelings of rivalry, I'd be lying if I said they didn't exist, and in fact it's necessary for each of us to better concentrate on our roles. But for me, in terms of working out, we all know Kwon is Korea's `hot body star'. I would work out at the gym for two hours, but (Kwon) would come in an hour late and leave 30 minutes early. He really didn't work out, and it made me wonder what he eats", he said, drawing laughter from reporters.
While Song sports a disheveled look from beginning to end, all the male leads retain grace in comparison to other stocky, tattooed gang members. To this, the director said, "You can put scar on Kwon and Song's faces, but that won't take away their looks. I considered making them look messier but it's a futile effort. If I wanted ugly characters I wouldn't have cast them in the first place".
Ji Sung, who made a special appearance in the film, did not appear at the press meeting. He played a sophisticated villain, which seems like a continuation of his role in "All In"
. Starlet Park Han-byeol
stars as Song's love interest. Like Song and Kwon, Park showed a deviation from her conventional roles. While her part as a bar girl marked a rather provocative turn, she retained an innocent damsel image.