A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng)

2005

A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng)

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 11

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,616

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Movie Info

An elegant sky lounge floating like an island in the sky above Seoul, it's like Sun Woo's own little castle. After 7 years he has climbed to the top, managing the upscale lounge and restaurant. An intelligent, cool-headed perfectionist, Sun Woo has earned the absolute trust of his boss with his undivided loyalty and by adeptly managing the business. His boss, Mr. Kang, is a callous man with a secret -- his young love, Hee-soo. When Mr. Kang suspects Hee-soo might have another boyfriend, he orders Sun-woo to keep a close eye on her and to kill her if she has betrayed him. After following her for a few days, Sun-woo barges in on Hee-soo and her boyfriend with a clear mission -- but to his own surprise, he lets them go. Sun-woo hopes everything will just go back to the way they were. But his decision has launched an irreversible war with the whole gang, guys who were like brothers just the day before.

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Critic Reviews for A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng)

All Critics (11) | Fresh (11)

Audience Reviews for A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng)

  • Jan 15, 2014
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 01, 2011
    <i>"You can do a hundred things right, but it takes only one mistake to destroy everything."</i> A Bittersweet Life is a 2005 South Korean film directed and written by Kim Ji-woon and starring Lee Byung-hun. Ruthlessly violent, it illustrates the ethical codes in the Korean mob and how they clash with personal morality. <center><font size=+2 face="Century Schoolbook"><b><u>REVIEW</u></b></font></center> A Bittersweet Life is genre adept Kim Jee-woon's fourth feature film, following strong showings in black comedy, sports comedy and horror. In this instance, it's a crime/revenge film and another completely different rendering than his previous films, proving that Kim has a strong capacity for understanding the genre film, twisting it and providing solid entertainment out of it. The story is a very simple one without any notable twists and turns: a dedicated mob enforcer, the model for coolness in criminal, has a moment of sympathy and his boss of many years takes it personally. Brutally beaten and upon the verge of being killed, he seizes a moment and escapes, going on a vengeance rampage once free. An interesting thematic undercurrent to the story is a level of self-deception and desire in the characters. In being unable to be honest, these men seal their fates. Granted, it doesn't make the story any more complex, but it adds a lot to the characters and their motivations, with the self-discovery of answers to their own unanswerable questions being secondary (or perhaps primary) goals. It's a tragic story, but elevated by the remarkable characterizations of all the players, from the charismatic cool anti-hero to the various bosses and upper level henchmen, all of whom are memorable characters. Furthermore, the direction definitely oozes with the type of cool that drives fanboys into seizures: lots of stylish ultraviolence, dialogue laden with buckets of cool, etc. The shots, the lighting, the acting, the art/production design--everything contributes so immensely to a high level of cool. And that might be a weakness for this film, but it seems like that's what the film set out to do and so it doesn't really disappoint. As such, the running time of two hours barely registers as the piece moves from step to step with heavy outbreaks of violence. Kim makes several homages to other films in the crime/action/vengeance films in process so fans of these kind of movies might have even more fun. However, while the film executes so strongly its goals of being a remarkable genre piece, it doesn't really try for much else, so those not interested in a stylish crime/revenge film loaded with violence and tons of style will find nothing special here. Those who do go in looking for this in a film will find a lot to like. Strongly recommended for those who appreciate the genre.
    Lorenzo v Super Reviewer
  • Aug 26, 2011
    A killing machine for a crime boss broken down by the smile of a sweet girl? I love it.
    Greg A Super Reviewer
  • Feb 27, 2011
    "A Bittersweet Life" starts with Sun-woo(Byung-hun Lee) cleaning up a mess of drunken guests with the able assistance of Min-gi(Ku Jin) at the hotel where he works as both enforcer and manager. That would not be necessary if Mun-suk(Roe-ha Kim) had been doing his job in the first place. All of which makes Baek(Jeong-min Hwang), the boss of the interlopers, not a happy man, as he deals out some punishment of his own. In the meantime, Sun-woo's boss, Kang(Kim Young-Chul), has a special assignment for him while he is in Shanghai for three days. Keep an eye on his young girlfriend, Hee-soo(Min-a Shin), a classical musician. And if she is cheating on him, kill her and her lover. Because without trust, then where are we? "A Bittersweet Life" is a stylish action movie with fine touches of humor(although the sequence with the arms dealers just goes on too long) and soul, like the kind of movies John Woo used to make. Admittedly, it's more violent but not excessively so. The question on the table here is whether a man can truly cnange. Or in this case, can music soothe the debonair beast? And I think that's the best explanation for Sun-woo's behavior, with a bit of obsession thrown in, not that he always had a soft spot. Notice how sparsely decorated his apartment is, by the way. However, the clothes always make the man, especially if you want to succeed in business.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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