Screened as part of NZIFF 2006

A Bittersweet Life 2005

Dalkomhan Insaeng

Directed by Kim Jee-woon

Formidable Korean director of The Quiet Family and A Tale of Two Sisters returns with stunning blend of icy noir, ultra-violence and wicked black humour.

South Korea In Korean with English subtitles
120 minutes CinemaScope

Director, Screenplay


Kim Ji-yong


Choi Jae-geun


Jang Young-kyu


Lee Byung-hun
Kim Young-chul
Hwang Jung-min
Shin Min-a
Kim Roi-ha
Lee Ki-young


Cannes (Out of Competition), Edinburgh 2005


From the formidable Korean director of two contemporary classics, The Quiet Family and A Tale of Two Sisters, comes a stunning blend of icy noir and ultra-violence, wrapped up in a velveteen embrace of wicked black humour and chiaroscuro stylings. Sun-woo is a cold-blooded and loyal enforcer for gang boss Kang. Kang asks Sun-woo to watch over his girlfriend Hee-soo, a gorgeous young cellist whom he suspects is having an affair. If proven correct, he wants her and her lover killed. When the conflicted enforcer makes an unwise if honourable decision, he becomes the target of Kang’s extreme wrath. Soon our suave bodyguard is being beaten to a pulp, hung up and smashed like a piñata before finally being buried alive. Fortunately, Sun-woo is the toughest bugger ever seen in Asian gangster cinema: after clawing himself out of the ground, he decides to settle the score by working his way back to Kang. This is one superb film, featuring riveting performances, operatic mayhem, moody cinematography, dazzling martial arts, kinetic editing and incredible set-piece action.