7.6/10
31,386
82 user 82 critic

A Bittersweet Life (2005)

Dalkomhan insaeng (original title)
Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn't proceed by his boss's orders.

Director:

Jee-woon Kim (as Kim Jee-woon)

Writers:

Dong-Cheol Kim (character created by: A Bittersweet Life), Jee-woon Kim (as Kim Jee-woon)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Byung-Hun Lee ... Sun-woo
Min-a Shin ... Hee-soo
Yeong-cheol Kim ... Mr. Kang (as Kim Young-Chul)
Jung-min Hwang ... President Baek (as Jeong-min Hwang)
Roe-ha Kim ... Mun-suk
Hae-gon Kim Hae-gon Kim ... Weapon smuggler
Eric Moon ... Gun Dealer's Brother (as Eric)
Dal-su Oh ... Myung-gu
Gi-yeong Lee Gi-yeong Lee ... Mu-sung
Goo Jin ... Min-gi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yu-mi Jung ... Mi-Ae
Tae-hee Kim Tae-hee Kim
Mu-yeong Lee Mu-yeong Lee
Kwang-rok Oh Kwang-rok Oh
Domashchenko Vadym Domashchenko Vadym ... Russian weapon smuggler
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Storyline

Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn't proceed by his boss's orders. Written by marinanic

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When doing right goes very, very wrong.

Genres:

Action | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

South Korea

Language:

Korean | Russian

Release Date:

1 April 2005 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

A Bittersweet Life See more »

Filming Locations:

South Korea

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital EX

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Korean title "Dalkomhan Insaeng" and the name of the bar "La Dolce Vita" translate to "The Sweet Life". As an ironic touch the International English title is called "A Bittersweet Life". See more »

Goofs

Toward the end of the film, when Kim Sun-woo is walking down the corridor searching for his former boss, a guard sitting and reading a newspaper gets up to stop him. Kim Sun-woo shoots him but his gun is not pointed at the guard. Rather, it is clearly pointed at the wall where fake blood appears after the shot like a paint gun. See more »

Quotes

Mu-sung: Apologize, then nothing will happen. "I. Was. Wrong." Three little words. If you say those three words, nothing horrible will happen. "I. Was. Wrong." Just three words.
Sun-woo: Fuck. Off. Asshole.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Two versions of the film exist, the original theatrical version and the director's cut. The director's cut's edits include slight cutting and re-arrangement of scenes, swapping music placement and some additional scenes that do not appear in the original version of the film. See more »

Connections

Remade as Awarapan (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Entertaining enough, if not quite a Ji-woon Kim masterpiece
20 August 2005 | by Chris_DockerSee all my reviews

After Tale of Two Sisters, Ji-woon Kim's new movie has been eagerly anticipated. In his previous film, the marks of originality, intellectual challenge and superb visual style hailed the possibility of a brave new voice in Korean cinema.

A Bittersweet Life commences with similarly awesome photography and ambiance. The wind in the leaves of a tree - Is it the leaves or the wind that moves? asks the disciple of the master. Neither, he replies, it is your mind and heart that moves. Cut to La Dolce Vita, the swish bar restaurant which we are to discover is also the gangland stronghold of Sun-Woo. A single tree in the centre of the restaurant's sky lounge. The colours red and black, glossy and visually forceful in the lounge - they not only play heavily in the film but make any small deviations stand out. Lushness or delicacy is easily conveyed later in the film by colour, a respite to the bloodshed that will almost swamp us. A tinkling piano (Chopin is used as part of the score) adds a delicate counterpoint to what we know will surely be an overload of violence and mayhem.

Sun-Woo has served his boss, President Kang, faithfully for seven years and is now manager of Dolce Vita as well as Kang's right hand man. Background profits, and gang competition, focuses on innocuous little sidelines like the supply of guns or dancing girls, and which countries these should come from. Kang has a secret lover from the 'normal' world, a cellist who is much younger than he, and whom he suspects of infidelity. Kang entrusts Sun-Woo to sort it out and show no mercy. The warfare that follows goes beyond honour, beyond profit, beyond vengeance, . . . beyond any rational point in fact.

Sun-Woo is the ultimate cool bad guy. Indentured to a world of violence and expert in the use of martial arts, knives and guns, he is almost a humanised Bruce Lee who's woken up on a Tarantino set. It sounds almost too good to be true and it is. The story lines are formulaic and derivative, consisting largely of how to engineer more ingenious punch-ups, torture or revenge posturing. Light humour afforded in the contrast between suave topdogs and bumbling henchmen has been done so many times, and many of the entertaining debacles could have been borrowed from Kill Bill. But entertaining it is, on an undemanding level. Sadly it is not the work of the Master that we might have expected from Two Sisters. "The dream I had can't come true," laments the protagonist, and ironically the dreams Ji-woon Kim's fans may justifiably had don't quite come true in A Bittersweet Life, but this otherwise elegant shoot-em-up is still reasonable 'boys night out' night fare.


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