A Bittersweet Life

Kim Sun-woo (Byung-Hun Lee) is an enforcer and manager for a hotel owned by a cold, calculative crime boss, who assigns him to a simple errand while he is away on a business trip.

Jee-Woon Kim is somewhat overshadowed by a few South-Korean directors, the reason for it, is beyond me, because to me he is very close on being in the same level as the great Chan-Wook Park or academy award winning Bong Joon Ho. I mean the Jee-Woon Kim is behind such a masterpiece that is titled ”I Saw The Devil”. I hadn’t seen ”A Bittersweet Life” before so i decided to make it my number one priority to get it and watch it. As the film ended, i was blown away, left speechless. Not sure why i was so stunned knowing already that Korean revenge-flicks are truly one of a kind. And to be honest, this was no different.

I was in awe from the sheer beauty of the exquisitely choreographed and crafted action scenes, the over-the-top yet somehow realistic violence and by the fact that the film actually had lots to say in a deeper level for an action/thriller movie. The violence, whilst there is a bunch of it, is lot easier to swallow than in ”I Saw The Devil”. The amount of gore is significantly lower in this one.

Byung-Hun Lee is a masterful actor, steals every second of ”A Bittersweet Life”. From the smooth delivery of lines of dialogue to the amazing capability of showing a wide range of emotions that felt nothing short of real. Besides the piece being a Jee-Won’s film, this is equally showcasing Byung-Hun Lee’s natural talent as an actor. Supporting cast do carry their weight also.

There’s a lot of small yet important details in this film, noticeable for sure but not in the vein of your usual action-flick that you can miss a few minutes and still be on the absolute track of what’s going on. So make sure to stay focused throughout.

A must see Korean revenge tale with a simple yet so gripping story and plot. Extremely well-shot, directed and superbly acted. Byung-Hun Lee is a tour de force. Can’t believe it took me 15 years to see ”A Bittersweet Life”, but hey. Better late than never. HIGHLY recommended.


Reviewed by Roope (PurgatoryFlicks)

Kim Sun-woo is an enforcer and manager for a hotel owned by a cold, calculative crime boss, Kang who assigns Sun-Woo to a simple errand while he is away on a business trip; to shadow his young mistress, Heesoo, for fear that she may be cheating on him with another, younger man, with the mandate that he must kill them both if he discovers their affair.

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Kim Jee-woon
Kim Jee-woon


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