Reviews & Counting
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A Bitter Sweet Life(2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Ji-woon Kim

Lee Byung-heon /Sun-woo
Kim Young-cheol /Kang
Shin Min-ah/Hee soo
8 10
Cold and effective hitman Sun-woo (Lee Byung-heon) is assigned a baby sitting gig by Top Dog Kang (Kim Young-cheol); watch over his young, sexy mistress (Shin Min-ah) and if she’s cheating on him…kill the shite out of her. Easy enough task no? Not when feelings seep into play. LET THE CARNAGE BEGIN!
Meet one of my favorite movies of the year thus far the Koran “Dalkomhan insaeng” or as they call it in my neck of the shooting range “A Bitter Sweet Life”. Although not a horror film, much like last year’s OLD BOY, A BITTER SWEET LIFE displayed enough twisted scenarios, high brutality and bloodshed for me to want to cover it on the site and tell you…YOU HAVE TO SEE IT!

Written and Directed by Ji-woon Kim who also helmed the excellent “A Tales of Two Sisters”, this steel tipped cartridge zipped through my bullet proof vest and dead banged my heart with its mix of “film noir”, “action film” and compelling character study. The jest of it is this; two men are at odds and they stop at nothing to axe each other out. One man is the Kingpin of a gang, hence well backed up, the other an expert assassin who just won’t freaking go down. DING DING! Let the battle begin! And what a battle it was! The visceral action in this film had me by the lapel, backhanding me non-stop like a pimp getting his un-deserved paycheck off one of his greedy tramps. I was this movie’s bitch and one scene in particular having to do with a torture and then an extensive escape made me its bitches’ bitch. Did I say the word bitch enough in this review? Yes? No? Wanna hear it again? BITCH!

I couldn’t go on with this drivel without highlighting Lee Byung-heon’s entrancing performance as Sun-woo; not only did the guy fight like a bastard in heat, he was photogenic, vulnerable and empathetic. I couldn’t take my eyes off the lad, even when the cute chick was onscreen, my retinas were clocked on him. Great show man! The adrenaline charged yet poetic directing came in to buzz me as well. Ji-woon Kim killed the bird with two stones on this one; not only rocking kinetic, visceral and mucho engaging images my way but also knowing when to slow down and use silence/stillness to bring the emotional themes home. WOW! I now look up to this guy; I want to be him when I grow up! Add to all that uber sweetness a tinge of “love story”, lots of heart, an ounce of existentialism, a handful of dark or/and circumstantial humor and an overall bleak tone and you get a SOLD “Arrow” SOLD I TELL YOU!

Any qualms with this tough nut? Well sure, the pace lagged in places (when having to do with stretched out humorous bits that ceased to be funny) and it did sport one ending too many for my liking (Talk about dragging that finale like a champ!). With that said, this punch drunk film gave me so much sweetness that its minor flaws were easily forgiven. LET THIS LIFE OWN YOU!
When this one spilled the red buckets, hit spilled it thick and graphic. We get various bullet wounds, blood galore and moments of violence that made me wince. Brutality is the name and this flick plays the game very well.
The camera loved Lee Byung-heon (Sun-woo) while his hypnotizing sense of stillness; quiet vulnerability and overt rage made him quite the compelling character to follow around. I loved the dude! Kim Young-cheol (The Boss) was intense, focused and mucho credible. Shin Min-ah (Hee soo) shined in the part of a “nice” girl caught in a bad situation. Grade A for ASS-KICKING cast!
T & A
If dudes in tank tops count to you; you’ll be a happy camper.
Ji-woon Kim’s served two “feels” in one dish. The lighting, the angles, the editing and the powerful use of silence gave the whole an almost surreal vibe. On the flip side, the grunginess, the washed out colors and the decrepit locations gave the whole a bleak look. ASTOUNDING!
The affecting score cracked the right heads when it came to backing the varied auras of the flick.
A Bitter Sweet Life was what I like to call an “Arrow Special”, where it might as well have been cooked up for me. It hit up everything that I love about film…period. Visually striking to gawk at, excessively violent, unorthodox, emotionally layered, existential and quite sad when you stop and think about it…this bitter sweet life RULED! I highly recommend you LIVE IT ASAP!
The flick was shot in South Korea.