Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Bittersweet Life Movie Review

A Bittersweet Life (2006)
Dalkomhan insaeng  
Buy A Bittersweet Life on Amazon
Written by: Jee-woon Kim
Directed by: Jee-woon Kim
Starring:  Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yeong-cheol, Shin Min-ah, Hwang Jung-min

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

A mobster disobeys his boss's orders, starting a destructive chain of events.

A well written and plotted revenge tale. It can be absolutely brutal at times, but it doesn't feature a super hero protagonist which lends it a bit more credibility.
This is a more than worthy entry in the Korean revenge movie genre.
Watch it.

Less than five minutes into the movie and we know Kim Sun-woo (Lee Byung-hun) can handle himself. He tells a group of guys to leave, and when they don't he counts to three to give them a warning. They don't heed that warning.

Sun-woo is a respected lieutenant, but his boss provides some foreshadowing, telling him that one mistake can ruin everything, undoing lots of hard work. Sun-woo is tasked with determining if the boss's girlfriend is cheating on him. If so, she needs to be eliminated.

The first scene grabs you and then the movie slows down. Sun-woo follows the girl, and while we get a hint he may like her, it's not conclusive. We know this movie will get bonkers at some point, and the anticipation culminates when he finds her other boyfriend. Sun-woo beats up the boyfriend and is stopped by the girl. He has his phone in hand, ready to dial his boss and he pauses. He debates on whether to call in a tense scene before snapping his phone shut. He feels like he saved her, and while he has, she doesn't see it that way.

Still upset about the girl, Sun-woo runs into the boss of the three guys he beat up in the first scene. It's bad timing and he only exacerbates that situation.

This is a movie that knows exactly what it's doing every step of the way. When this ramps up, it ramps hard. There is just no mercy to this, to Sun-woo or by Sun-woo. His boss wants to punish him, and the related fight in the middle is nothing short of epic.
The action scenes are good, and part of that is the setup. The movie doesn't just dive into the action, it paints the scene so that when Sun-woo uses the environment to his advantage, we've already seen some of those elements. The action is well choreographed and the cinematography is really good.

I appreciate that Sun-woo isn't a dead shot, but it almost makes this more brutal. Instead of one shot kills, it's multiple shots as the victim is in agony. Sun-woo is out for complete revenge in retaliation for his boss trying to kill him, and he has no intention of stopping.

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