Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Movie Review: "A Bittersweet Life" (2005)

I make a good cigarette model, eh?The Korean Wave has brought about a lot of really great movies from great Korean filmmakers. Since 2000 and the release of Shiri and My Sassy Girl, Korean filmmakers have proven to the rest of the world that they can cut it as good as, and in most cases, better than their Hollywood counterparts. Kim Jee-woon (The Foul King, The Quiet Family) has had another movie released here in the Philippines, A Tale of Two Sisters, to rave reviews. Cinemanila will also be releasing his follow up to the critically-acclaimed horror-drama, a gangster flick called A Bitttersweet Life.

Sun Woo (Lee Byung Heon) is a thug. A minion to one of the most powerful gang-lords in Seoul. In true acchilean fashion, he is invincible in a fistfight and can take any blow trown at him. He is ordered by his boss to watch over one of his young girlfriends (Shin Min Ah) to see if she is cheating on him, and 'get rid' of her if in case she does. The movie plays like a Greek tragedy, with Sun Woo as the Achilles type character. Stoic, emotionless and efficient. Soon his coolness and precision start to fade when he meets Min Ah. He catches the girl with a younger man in her house and, as ordered, was supposed to wipe them out, but can't.

mmmm. champorado.The flow of the story is kind of 'pay attention or you'll miss it'. Like '...Two Sisters', you are not prepared for the next plot development because the director will not give you any hints or clues. He'll just hit you with it without warning. Darcy Paquet of was quick to point out that this film will be compared to OldBoy 'countless times'. And it's true, you can't help it. The sweet nihilistic buzz of vengeance is always present in key parts and even in the quiet lulls of the film.

One notable element in the movie that I really enjoyed, although superficial, is the inclusion of Filipinos in the cast. There is a scene where Sun Woo buys water in a 7-11 type store where you see a group of three thugs eating noodles chatting in the foreground. "Ang hirap dito, no?", "Pinahihirapan tayo", "Saka yung pagkain...ang anghang!". In the final scene, an all out gunfight involving the said Filipino thugs would seem like an unintentional homage to campy Philippine action movies. Bear in mind that gunfights in Korean movies are a rarity because of the strict gun ban (yes, even for gangsters) and makes guns unavailable for civilian use.

A Bittersweet Life will be shown in Cinemanila on the first week of October.

Rocketboy's rating: *** (3 out of 5)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saan ka nakabili nito? Meron na ba sa Quiapo o Makati Cinema Square?

- Allan and Jane

7:11 PM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

Allan and Jane- Nabili ko ito sa Makati Square. Mag isa na lang siya dun nung nakita ko kaya kinuha ko na kahit wala akong balak bumili nung araw na yun.

Maganda pa ang packaging niya kakaiba, para siyang booklet. Makapal yung cover parang hardbound na libro saka embossed yung logo.

5:58 AM

Anonymous watch movies said...

This is one of the best films I've seen in my life, with beautiful cinematography, excellent acting, and most importantly, a great script.

9:46 PM


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