South Korea, 2008, 118 minutes
Sun, May 3 / 12:30 / Clay / GOGO03Y
Tue, May 5 / 9:15 / Kabuki / GOGO05K
Thu, May 7 / 8:15 / Kabuki / GOGO07K
Based on the story of real-life ’70s rock group the Devils, Go Go 70s is a worthy addition to the recent canon of Korean films that re-evaluate the country’s history from authoritarian rule to civilian democracy in the late 20th century. Artistically frustrated by playing U.S. military bars, singer Sang-gyu and guitarist Man-Shik (real-life rocker Cho Seung-Woo) form a rock group called the Devils to enter a contest in Seoul and take a shot at the big time. Their signature sound is soul—contrary to the overblown rock that prevails—and shows the influence of their contact with African Americans in the military. Initially dispirited by the lukewarm response they receive at the contest, they are surprised to win an award. Joined by sexy go-go dancer Mimi they become a hit at the underground Nirvana club, ground zero for pop culture in Seoul. But Park Chung-Hee’s repressive government cracks down on youth culture, closing clubs and jailing dissidents. Deprived of venues, and wrought by internal tension, the Devils dissolve. A cross between The Commitments and The Blues Brothers, Choi Ho’s film pulses with energy—the band’s winning number “We Are Devils” is a blast—that not only captures Korea’s go-go music zeitgeist but also the role of pop culture in dissent. As the film progresses, the band sings less in English and more in Korean, a sign of local rock culture taking root. But the influences of American soul remain, from the Ronettes-inspired dancing of Mimi and her girls to the Devil’s rousing rendition of a Creedence Clearwater Revival hit sung in Korean!
Presented in association with the Korean Film Council. West Coast Premiere.