Seon-Woo is a manager at an hotel owned by a cold, calculating mob boss. Working for this man, Seon-Woo is a deadly enforcer who does his job in a business-like approach. When his boss goes on a business trip, Seon-woo is discreetly asked by his boss to watch a young woman, Hee-soo, who he has been seeing. The boss suspects foul play and tells Seon-Woo to "finish them off yourself" if he discovers her with another man. When Seon-Woo discovers Hee-soo with another man he can't pull the trigger, leading to intense repercussions from the mob boss. Kim Ji-Woon's A Bittersweet Life is a action-packed stylized film which ultimately explores a silent, cold man's rebirth. I've always been a big fan of Byung-Hun Lee and this film is no different. His performance is incredibly nuanced, with him perfectly capturing the sleek, elegant mobster role whose gracefulness in brutality reminded me of Alain Delon in Le Samourai. The film isn't quite as meditative and transient as I was hoping but I think the film still does a great job at getting its point across. Seon-Woo has been in this gangster world for a long time, surrounded by cold hostile people. Hee-Soo is probably one of the only innocent and caring people he has ever crossed which ultimately ends up affecting him greatly. Seon-Woo can't even explain in words why he let Hee-Soo live, but it's clear, he just has trouble grasping compassion when coming from a world where this is deemed unnecessary and a weakness. Kim Ji-Woon once again shows that he is a talented filmmaker with great use of editing and cinematography which put the viewer directly into Seon-Woo's world, while also providing some incredibly thrilling action sequences which are both incredibly brutal, well choreographed, and stylized in some inventive ways.
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