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A Bittersweet Life

Posted by martinteller on April 25, 2013

This is gonna be a real quick one because I have to get ready for a thing, and besides I really don’t have much to say.  I have seen two other films by Kim Ji-woon — A Tale of Two Sisters and The Good, the Bad and the Weird — and I liked this one slightly more than either of them.  But I’m still underwhelmed.  It’s a very familiar and fairly predictable gangster/revenge tale without much nuance.  But like the John Woo and Quentin Tarantino films (and maybe Johnnie To? I dunno) it seems to draw inspiration from, it gets by on style.  Balletic bursts of visceral violence, flashy camerawork, somewhat novel takes on action tropes (my favorite being the shootout that can’t begin until both parties hastily re-assemble their guns).  It’s enjoyable and immersive enough to keep watching.

But don’t expect a lot of substance.  Some scraps of philosophy and Zen Buddhism are in the mix, but they don’t stimulate anything and feel tacked on for weight.  The enigmatic ending is a mild curiosity, but I don’t know if it says all that much about what preceded it.  It’s a fun film with an accomplished sense of style and pleasing performances… but not much more than that.  Rating: Good (73)


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