Still from Gook (2017)
Gook is a devastating drama that takes place during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Two Korean-American brothers named Eli (Justin Chon) and Daniel (David So) work at a shoe store in a neighborhood where there are racial tensions between Korean-Americans and African-Americans. They form a friendship with a sweet African-American girl named Kamilla (Simone Baker) who ditches school and likes to hang out with them. Written and directed by Chon, it is a very heavy and emotional film with a touching story based on one of the most tragic events in American history.

“It’s getting crazy out there!” Having been looted back in 1992, the director himself has said that Gook is a movie he wanted to make for a very long time. You can tell it’s a personal journey for him to go back to that era. Historically speaking, it was a rough time period. It’s a heavy subject matter, but this is a story that needs to be told. Everyone was going through a hard time, and it’s quite painful to think about. However, you have to praise Chon for wanting to show both the sides of Korean-Americans and African-Americans during the LA riots. He does a phenomenal job humanizing all the people in his screenplay, which means he’s able to tell everyone’s point of view in a respectful way.

“In Korean, it just means country.” It’s beautifully shot from start to finish with the filmmakers clearly being inspired by Spike Lee’s style of direction, while also showcasing the unique black-and-white cinematography that you would see in Kevin Smith’s feature debut Clerks. Let’s get this out of the way, the whole cast is absolutely incredible. Chon and So have great chemistry with Baker, and it’s quite touching to see their friendship develop as the movie goes on. From the get-go, it starts off strong when it introduces the main protagonists to the audience. Some moments will leave you speechless, and they’re quite emotionally shocking. When you see the violent moments happening on screen, they’re very raw and intense. They don’t hold anything back, which makes the film powerful.

Gook is not easy to watch, but it’s pretty impactful, especially given the current situation. It’s sad to know that there were racial tensions during the LA riots, and you really feel for the people you see on screen. It’s an important lesson for us to support each other and be on the same side when we’re all struggling together in tough times. It’s a very heartfelt and influential drama that showcases Chon as a compelling writer and director who wants to change the world through filmmaking.

Watch Gook