A Bittersweet Life

2005 [KOREAN]

Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100% · 12 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 90% · 10K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.5/10 10 43223 43.2K


Top cast

Byung-hun Lee as Sun-woo
Jeong-min Hwang as President Baek
Min-a Shin as Hee-soo
Yu-mi Jung as Mi-Ae
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.07 GB
Korean 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 59 min
Seeds 7
2.2 GB
Korean 5.1
23.976 fps
1 hr 59 min
Seeds 22

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by magnadoodle666 7 / 10

Pure Asian gangster action

I can see how this movie is well liked by many people. It's definitely different from a Hollywood movie, and a breath of fresh air from "the formula". At the same time, it's not so different as to cause discomfort or incomprehension. Violence is violence everywhere.

If you compare this movie against other great Asian action movie directors, than I think it's not that special. It's well done, but it's ultimately a light movie. A bit like an Asian version of an Hollywood action movie. There are some moments though (the end comes to mind), where the movie does show some signs of self awareness. But overall, it's a fairly straightforward, over the top gangster movie. If that's what you're looking for, you'll be pleased, but don't expect to be blown away by a masterpiece of cinema.

Reviewed by raweater 8 / 10

Another breathtaking revenge movie from South-Korea

I had the luck to watch this gem at the Fantasy-Film-Festival in Frankfurt yesterday. It was shown in a theater with about 600 seats and against my expectations the room was packed with people.

In comparison with Oldboy or Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance the story is not as deep and goes more straightforward to the pure revenge theme. But this does not make the movie less enjoyable. The cinematography is brilliant and the main-character delivers a great performance. It contains beautifully choreographed martial-arts and gunfight scenes with references to masterpieces like Taxi Driver and Kill Bill.

Despite the fact it is very harsh in some scenes the humor does not come to short. The scene with a discussion of Korean-Russian wannabe-gangsters made me nearly wet my pants.

Reviewed by CuriosityKilledShawn 9 / 10

Punished for doing the right thing

Sun-Woo is the manager of sleek modern restaurant in uptown Seoul called La Dolce Vita, but that's not his only employment. He is also the errand-boy of underworld Kingpin Mr Kang. A job he fulfils ruthlessly and efficiently, until the day Mr Kang takes off for a week, leaving Sun-Woo to mind his much younger girlfriend Hee-Soo to make sure she doesn't sleep around. If she does, he is to execute both of them. Hee-Soo cheats. Sun-Woo almost sentences them to death, but has a sober moment and realises that letting them go is the right thing to do.

In Mr Kang's absence a rival crime syndicate, headed by President Baek and his over-confident son is becoming more and more impatient to force a business merger with Kang. Despite Kang's reluctance to go through with this deal one of his own men, Sun-Woo's cohort, Min-Gi welcomes the business with Baek and his son and complicates matters.

Upon Kang's return he figures out Sun-Woo's failure to carry out his orders and demands he be killed unless he apologises. At this moment, Sun-Woo is about to be tortured to death by Baek Jr. but is returned to Kang on the promise that he will do business.

It's out of the frying pan and into the deepest pits of fiery hell for Sun-Woo. Already bashed and bruised and beaten he is cast down in the mud during a heavy rainstorm and forced to apologise. He resists. His hand is crushed with a massive wrench he is buried alive.

He survives and breaks through the loose soil. Sun-Woo and the audience breathe a sigh of relief. But it's far from over. Min-Ji and a large group of thugs are still waiting by the shallow grave. They drag him into a old building and give him 15 minutes to call Mr. Kang and beg for his life. Still he refuses. And when those 15 minutes are up Sun-Woo unleashes an incredibly lethal and jaw-droppingly furious ass-kicking like you have never seen. He goes through about 20 men like they weren't even there and dishes out agonising, blood-soaked punishment in one of the most nail-biting escapes you'll ever see.

It's now time for Sun-Woo to plan his revenge. And that he does with lovingly violent detail.

A Bittersweet Life comes in 3 large acts that make the 120-minute running time pass in a breeze. The set-up and story are so simple and honest that you can literally start-watching the film at any point and still become immersed in the action. But, I feel that many viewers may be missing the twist at the end.

By 'twist' I mean after Sun-Woo's death the film goes back to the beginning, revealing that he only fantasised the whole thing. He says the cruelty of any sweet dream is waking up to find yourself back in the real world. He is still in his restaurant and when no one is looking, insecurely looking over his shoulder to make sure, Sun-Woo shadow boxes for fun or curiosity. Hardly the kind of behavior you would expect from a man who has just annihilated 50 baddies.

But, regardless of the final outcome, it's the high-octane journey you take to get there that really matters right? And A Bittersweet Life is one movie you'll want to watch over and over again.

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