I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Bittersweet movies November 25, 2007

Of all the movies I saw at last week’s film festival, I’ve now identified my clear favorite. But first I have to say I didn’t hate any of the movies I saw, although there was one that wasn’t completely my thing (it’s not a movie any of you recommended, so no fears there). I was delighted that I finally got to see My Wife Is a Gangster, and I can’t figure out why MWIG 2 is so readily available while MWIG 1 doesn’t seem to be available anywhere, even on Tiger Cinema the last I checked (shame on you, TC). MWIG 1 didn’t disappoint, although I was prepared to be disappointed since I’d been dying to see it for so long. High expectations, you know. But no. Hilarious movie.

But not my fave.

Trust me to go dark and pick a totally non-comedy gangster semi-redemption pic for my favorite film. The Raven Favorite Award for KOFFLA 2007 (that’s the festival’s abbreviation) goes to A Bittersweet Life.

If you haven’t seen this movie, SEE IT. But if you hate antiheroes, don’t see it, because Lee Byung Hun’s character is an antihero extraordinaire. But after years of being a ruthless, conscience-free mob enforcer, he suddenly encounters a situation where his conscience won’t let him follow orders, and the movie follows his journey from there. Dark, bloody, tense, and awesome. It can be hard to portray an antihero sympathetically and get into his mind so we can understand him (witness Michael Clayton, which I just saw… oops, I can’t talk about that here, it’s not Korean), but A Bittersweet Life manages it.

Not to sound shallow, but Lee Byung Hun is also total eye candy. But he could have been hot as all get out and I still wouldn’t have liked the movie if it had worked less well.

Also in the movie were Shin Min Ah and Lee Ki Young, both of whom have been mentioned here before. Lee Ki Young even got a whole post dedicated to him here. Despite what I said about him then, he clearly does get shoved into gangster roles a lot. And as for her, well, all I can say is she pulls off the sweet and innocent act with grace, but c’mon, how often do real gangsters end up with sweet, innocent mistresses? Of course, real gangsters probably don’t look like Lee Byung Hun either. Her character was necessary for the story. It worked well enough. I let it slide.

P.S. The photo is from english.chosun.com.

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8 Responses to “Bittersweet movies”

  1. JT Says:

    Hmmm…. so I guess there is some deeper, darker meaning to the name “Raven” than I originally thought… lol… I have not seen the movie, and would not have cast LBH as an anti-hero. But playing against type is what all actors love to do. It sounds like you had a good time because of the festival. I’m glad of it…

  2. Raven Says:

    I haven’t seen him in anything else, but he was really good in this.

    Yup, the festival was a lot of fun. Six Korean movies in four days!

  3. Edward Says:

    Very good choice. Bittersweet Life is an excellent movie. It’s getting remade by the way in the states. It’s in preproduction and I don’t know if casting is done yet.

    Also, the former director for Hitman said that the soft pastel colors in Bittersweet Life inspired the cinematography for that movie.

  4. Edward Says:

    The soundtrack is also pretty dang good. A swank mix of Spanish guitar music and easy Jazz. It won a Spanish award for best music.

  5. Raven Says:

    Hmm, I’ve been wondering whether to see Hitman. I’d kind of decided it would be a rental.

    I don’t remember the music in A Bittersweet Life. I wonder if I can get my hands on it again and rewatch it with more attention to other details now that I know the story.

    Nice avatar pic, btw.

  6. Bon Vivant Says:

    I love Korean cinema!

    I really want to start watching K dramas but didn’t want to start until I was free during the days (ok, I thought that I was going to get fired – a perfect time to indulge one senses in K dramas). But now I thought that I would hit up certain family members for an iPod nano or Classic so that I can watch videos on the bus (long story!) K dramas would be perfect!

  7. Raven Says:

    The bus? You’ll have to tell me that story.

    Tiger Cinema now has a kdrama plan for $9.99/month. The catch is you only get one drama a month. But that’s about what I’ve been averaging anyway (too busy now that I have no day job!), so I wish I had noticed that plan before my billing cycle ended last week.

  8. noor Says:

    안녕하세요
    내가 요르단의 누르
    나는 한국의 일부 드라마를보고 난 아주, 아주, 아주 멈출 수가 없어 그녀를 사랑한다고 말하고
    그건 정말 수행 – 최대 매력

    난 장이 최소 미성년자의 일련의 보석입니다 영웅 사랑
    용인 장이와 황제는 바다의 시리즈
    삼손과 훌륭한 아기를 삼손의 시리즈


Comments are closed.