#41 – A Bittersweet Life (Director’s Cut) – by Nick Andersen

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A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng) is a 2005 South Korean R-rated action film written and directed by Kim Jee-woon, starring Lee Byung-hun, Shin Min-a, Kim Yeong-cheol, Hwang Jung-min and Kim Roi-ha. After refusing to kill his boss’s cheating girlfriend and escaping his own death, a gangster goes on a violent revenge path.

NO SPOILERS (Don’t watch the trailer!)

It’s a refreshingly realistic action film with outstanding performances by the whole cast. Co-star Kim Roi-ha shows a great character development throughout the film and is fun to watch. I admire the respect and discipline of Asian cultures such as in Korea, Japan and China. Kim Sunwoo (Lee Byung-hun) is a straight-faced enforcer loyal to all his boss’s orders. We don’t need to know about his personal life nor his background. We only see him on the job and this makes him look like the ultimate asset. Almost robotic. The star’s fighting skills and agility brings more to his gangster role and the fight choreography is good.

The film is beautiful and elegant without having to show excessive blood for one that has an air of Kill Bill. The music is wonderfully composed to each scene both calm and action, which when combined with the actors’ facial expressions and limiting words, delivers an amazing result. Most of the shooting is still which I enjoy much more than handheld shooting as it gives a higher professional touch. I must say that the production’s lighting is very pleasant. The story, the characters, the interactions, the music, the decisions and the consequences deliver a tasteful work of art, and the ending… Well you’ll have to watch it to find out for yourself.

This is my first Kim Jee-woon film and I loved it. A film speaks more to you through facial expressions and music than words could ever, and A Bittersweet Life does exactly this. I highly recommend not watching the trailer as it gives away much of the points of the plot.

Thanks for reading my review!

– Nick Andersen

#38 – The Thirteenth Floor – by Nick Andersen

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The Thirteenth Floor is a 1999 sci-fi crime thriller directed by Josef Rusnak and relatively based upon Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3, also published as Counterfeit World (1964). The film stars Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio and Dennis Haysbert. Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important, but knowing someone is after him, he leaves a letter for his colleague, Douglas Hall, in the virtual reality his company has created. Fuller is murdered in the real world and his colleague is suspected. Douglas finds a bloody shirt in his bathroom and cannot recall what he did during the night Fuller was murdered, so he enters the simulation to find the letter but is confronted with the unexpected.

NO SPOILERS

Continue reading #38 – The Thirteenth Floor – by Nick Andersen

#12 – This Is England – by Nick Andersen

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This Is England is an R rated 2006 crime and drama film directed and written by Shane Meadows based off of his own experiences. The film
centers during a 1983 summer in England in the times of Margaret Thatcher as first Prime Minister and the Falklands War. Shaun, a
fatherless 12-year old loner, becomes part of a friendly Skinhead group but things get more dramatic when dangerous neo-nazi Combo returns from prison. It’s an interesting change of scenery if you’re used to American-made films. The film deals with the times of mass unemployment and the xenophobia of the group of these Skinheads. We see how things are through the eyes of young impressionable Shaun. This film is not for everyone. Some love it and others dislike it. My opinion is right in the middle.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#2 – A Walk Among The Tombstones – by Nick Andersen

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A Walk Among The Tombstones is a 2014 movie. First thing that came to my mind was, ‘Yay a Liam Neeson film!’ But wait, not so fast. While generally any movie that has Mr. Neeson in it is an enjoyable one, this one has mixed reviews.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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