ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – J – A Bittersweet Life (2005) Movie Review


This is under J because of director Jee-woon Kim.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Jee-woon Kim (Screenplay) Dong-Cheol Kim (Character)

Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheol Kim, Jung-min Whang, Roe-ha Kim

Plot: Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn’t proceed by his boss’s orders.

Tagline – When doing right goes very, very wrong.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brutal

Story: A Bittersweet Life starts when one of Mr Kang’s (Kim) best enforcers Sun-woo (Lee) is assigned to watch over a young woman Hee-soo (Shin) to make sure she is dating other men, to which Sun-woo discovers, given them a warning never see each other again, going against his boss’s orders.

When Mr Kang learns the truth that Sun-woo has disobeyed him, he treats him like anyone else who has crossed him, leaving him for dead, forcing Sun-woo to look for his own revenge.

Thoughts on A Bittersweet Life

Characters – Sun-woo is one of the most loyal enforcers for Mr Kang, he will always get the job done, demands quiet respect for his work too, he is given a strange assignment to watch over a young woman and deal with any problems, which he doesn’t, leading to him coming face to face with his boss, who wants him to suffer for breaking the promise. Hee-soo is a beautiful young woman that Mr Kang wants for his own, she is trying to live her own life, she doesn’t want Mr Kang in it and when Sun-woo shows her mercy she looks to leave the life behind. Mr Kang is the ruthless mod boss that is using the enforcers to control the city, he has the best men in place, but his vices are women which will see him wanting to keep them for himself, turning on anyone that crosses him or fails to follow orders.

PerformancesByung-hun Lee is brilliant in the leading role, he shows the outsider figure he has created, while showing the deadly side when pushed to the limits. Min-a Sin is great as the woman trapped in this world, while Yeong-cheol Kim is great as the ruthless mob boss that won’t accept anything but the best from his men.

StoryThe story here follows an enforcer that is forced into a job that he doesn’t follow through on, which sees him boss turn on him, wanting to torture and kill him, only for him to escape and extract his own form of revenge. This is a brutal revenge story that shows that if you cross the one person you trust the most, you will pay the consequences, even if you were to throw everyone at the person you want to stop. While we could imagine just how this story will unfold, it is the relentless nature of the revenge side of it that keeps us glued to what will happened next.

ActionThe action for the second half of the film, does feel relentless, with the pure number of fights, shoot outs and battles Sun-woo goes through to get his own revenge for what has happened to him.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to show how the highest members of the mob will be in the penthouse areas, looking down on the people of the world, while the small duties happen in the shadows.

Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not having enough time with Hee-soo’s life.

Final Thoughts This is a hard hitting brutal action film that never holds back in the bloodshed of the battles. Byung-hun Lee is excellent in the leading role, carrying everything in the fights and emotional stakes of the film too.

Overall: Hard-Hitting.

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