No. 3


"Billed as a gangster comedy, it must have lost a lot in the translation, because I didn't find much of anything in this movie funny."

- Equinox21

No Comment (1997)

AKA: No. Three, Number Three, Number 3

Director: Song Neung-Han

Producer: Seo Woo-Sik

Cast: Han Suk-Kyu, Choi Min-Shik, Lee Mi-Yeon, Song Kang-Ho, Park Sang-Myun

Running Time: 109 min.

Plot: A sharp-witted young gangster, Tae-Ju, (Han Suk-Kyu) is unhappy with his No. 3 status in the pecking order of his urban gang, a situation that can only be remedied by taking on the tough Ashtray. Meanwhile, his bar-hostess wife (Lee Mi-Yun) is taking both poetry lessons and love sessions from a local poet. Tae-Ju must deal with police corruption, Japanese dominance, and his own lack of trust in others as he attempts to make his way to No. 1.

Availability: This title is available at


EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Sometimes translation can make or break a film's enjoyment. This is really the case with watching No. 3. Billed as a gangster comedy, it must have lost a lot in the translation, because I didn't find much of anything in this movie funny. There were some enjoyable parts, being a crime/gangster movie also, but unfortunately the comedy aspect failed entirely for me. I think the problem is that I don't speak Korean and the subtitles were very poorly done. There were lots of written things in this movie on screen that were not translated at all, which also didn't help.

The gangster aspect of this one isn't too bad, however. It's starts out in the winter of 1992 when a lower gang member, Tae-Ju (Han Suk-kyu), protects the boss, who happens to be in a coma, from an attempted coup d'etat. Once the boss comes out of his coma he rewards Tae-ju by giving him a cushy condo and making him the No. 2 in the gang. Fast forward to the spring of 1997, when most of the movie takes place. Tae-ju is now the No. 2 in the gang, however he is trying to hold onto his position, which is constantly being challenged by the No. 3 in the gang, Ashtray (take a guess as to what he uses as a weapon). He and Ashtray go back and forth between No. 2 and No. 3, as each succeeds and fails at certain assignments. Ashtray is the brute force member of the gang, while Tae-ju is the diplomatic one. It's an interesting battle between the two as they each try to get a leg up.

Where this movie truly shines is with Song Kang-ho's character, the failed assassin/almost charismatic boss of his own gang. The funniest parts of this movie come when he is training the 3 members of his gang, called the Bul-sa (no death) gang. He teaches them the methods of being an assassin, while they intently take notes, as though the way to become a successful organized crime syndicate is through studying and taking notes about what your boss teaches. It's also really funny to see him stutter and babble whenever he gets flustered. Unfortunately, his part in the movie is far too small for me to really be able to recommend this one.

Overall, it's just not a great movie for a non-Korean speaker, as it loses just about all the comedy in the translation. It's somewhat entertaining, but there are much better Han Suk-kyu and Song Kang-Ho movies of both action and comedy genres than this one.