Top 25 Korean Films - No. 13

A Bittersweet Life (Dir. Kim Jee-woon, 2005)

A Bittersweet Life is one of the slickest Korean films ever made, and in an industry known for its pristine production values, that is an impressive achievement. Serenely suave, achingly cool and prodigiously violent, Kim Jee-woon’s gangster noir has found legions of fervent fans around the world for its terrific style. Indebted to the mobster cool of Melville, Kim’s film imbues a modern, pristine Seoul landscape with old school atmosphere.

Starting off as a gangster film and then quickly transitioning to a revenge story at the midway point, A Bittersweet Life is a film of two clean halves that is as straightforward as it sounds. While many stylish Korean productions hide something under their polished exteriors, Kim’s work is an unapologetic exercise in exquisite genre cinema. In this case at least, the catchphrase ‘style over substance’ probably applies, but it shouldn’t be seen as a criticism.

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Top 10 Lists

Year   2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - All Time (Top 25)

Genre   Gangster - Revenge

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