“ As Mr.Kang's character may symbolize tradition and convention, Sun-Woo strikes him down as a unpredictable force of chaos and revolution.
“ The ending, in particular, is quite stunning.
“With a plot that is neither as fresh or as clever as that other recent great Korean revenge drama, Oldboy, Kim Jee Woon's movie owes a lot of its success to lead actor Byung-hun Lee who puts in a confident performance that is the epitome of cool: dressed in a snappy suit, this hard-as-nails gangster is an unflappable fellow, even faced with what seems like certain death.
“ Very stylish and very bloody, A Bittersweet Life may not be the 'classic' that some have hailed it to be, but it is a very good addition to the Asian gangster genre that is well worth watching.
“ As though anxious to prevent that same boredom in his audience, he fills his movies with passing thrills.
“ Most films would promptly have minder and moll strike sparks off each other before falling into a predictable game of dangerous sexual intrigue.
“This movie is totally predictable.
“Brief review: plain stupid, waste of excellent film a lot of students would have used a lot better, and a shameful waste of my time, based on the current, outrageously over-estimated IMDb rating (7.3)
“ In place of nothing to exorcize, he seems to pick every time a different genre to stave off boredom.
“ It's well shot, well cast but no story to speak of that would keep your attention.
“ Clocking in at two hours this is one fast paced ride full of imagery.
“If you enjoy revenge thrillers then you should love this; the action is intense and fairly brutal.
“Third, the middle part of the story is way too long without explaining the important details.
“It's a very entertaining movie if you're into this kind of stuff, and the direction and cinematography are splendid.
“ First off, the decor is simply stunning, the camera-work is meticulous, especially as it keeps up with some wonderful fight scenes.
“ 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.
“ The best part of the film though is the entire final hour, which plays out as a non-stop adrenaline ride.
“This film is well worth watching, although I am not convinced it will quite make it into my DVD collection.
“ Life is unpredictable and as the quote says, only you have the power to change your future.
“ Enjoyable and Fast-Paced .
“ The plot is blazingly original & powerfully narrated, the action is downright violent & viciously engaging, the performances are very strong & characters are completely fleshed out, and it deals with the ethics of Korean mafia in a stunning & highly realistic manner.
“ Is what the boss does to him (upon discovering the betrayal) really all that unexpected?
“ In Hollywood, they probably would've made a boring Steven Seagal movie, that follows the same pattern seen a million times already.
“ This film dragged on in a preposterous and unimaginative way with no real development of character, no poise or thorough art direction and certainly no depth.
“ Slow moving pictures with melancholic music added to it.
“Gripping, clever, dramatic and sometimes funny (in a dark way) this film has clever action scenes, grit and more emotion than you could shake a stick at.
“ At times there are also moments of comedy to lighten the mood but it's the set pieces like the amazing end sequence that leaves you on the edge of your seat.
“ I really enjoyed that switch from slow and predictable, to fast and heavy; it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat!
“ But entertaining it is, on an undemanding level.
“ The film opens with a shot of trees blowing in the wind and a quote of the most banal philosophy (-"is it the branches moving or the wind?
“ Until this point the pace of the film has been quite slow, and steady.
“ Director Kim Jee-Woon has given us a gripping tale of revenge that treads a well worn path, yet does it with enough panache and style for us to forgive the occasional cliché.
“ In one scene, she even says to his face "Your so boring".
“ The acting talents are as outstanding as the story line is intense.
“ Within the first ten minutes i knew this film was going to keep me on the edge of my seat.
“ Not one of the "great" K-revenge movies, but entertaining nonetheless .
“ Another breathtaking revenge movie from South-Korea .
“ Extreme, but extremely linear and generally predictable .
“ Tedious and over-rated .
“ Director Jee-woon Kim really knows how to capture the interest of the audience, the storytelling here is top notch and suspenseful all the way through.
“ 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.
“What seems intriguing as a story line at first sight turns out to be quite redundant.
“ However, when Sun Woo spies Hee Soo with her boyfriend, he makes a stunning decision, one that will have major consequences for all involved!
“ It's occasionally disturbing, sometimes blackly funny, and gripping throughout.
“ In my opinion it is far superior to Chan-Wook Park's trilogy (Sympathy and Lady I found frankly bland and Oldboy was ruined by the incredibly slow and strung out ending).
“ When I got bored I just watched the lead actress - about the only woman in the whole film.
“ If you'll omit such speculations or enhance the plot by filling in the subtleties of Sun-woo's motives then I'm sure you'll find this film very uncompromising and intense from the first reel up until the final hodgepodge of a bloodbath.
“EDIT: 2 Years I re-call being told, on youtube as I berated the film with these same comments, that the entire film was he's imagination, apparently he's life as a top rate, cool Gangster was so boring, he imagines the whole thing.
“ The subtleties of his A Tale of Two Sisters created a disturbing cocktail of suspenseful horror, one in which the audience was often left guessing as to the exact relationship between major characters.
“ however the introduction of an extra character near the end scene was a bit confusing as we are not told who he is how he is related to the story ( well not in great detail ) i will be looking for other films from Korea and what i now call new cinema rather than world cinema, mainly because of the quality i spoke of earlier in directing, acting, cinematography, story and choreography.
“ As soon as Sun-woo climbs out of the grave that he metaphorically dug (after he took the moral high ground, he knew that there would be repercussions for lying to the boss), and the actual muddy, physical grave that the gang buried him in, the film changes to a fast paced, and bloody revenge plot.
“ The direction of it all makes the movie entertaining and engrossing, just from the first scene all the way too the end.
“I was impressed by the stunning performance of the leading actor, as well as of the other actors.
“ The pacing during the first half is a touch too limp, but once it gets going this is hugely involving, entertaining, and satisfying watch.
“Many scenes depicting violence and fights are well placed in the film to describe subtle emotional changes of the hero (Byung-hun LEE) and the unexpected situation that he encounters.
“Each time, you expect something gripping to happen, it just doesn't.
“Fifth, the vengeance chapter only takes a few minutes and doesn't impress with much action, gripping tension or some brutality.
“ all together this is good action packed movie with good background score and good performance.
“ Maybe it was just because she found him boring and ethereally played cello?
“ Two or three powerhouse action sequences - a standout being Sun-woo's escape - redeem matters considerably, but one yearns for more imagination amongst incidentals, echoing the central theme which relates the implied vacuum in a hard man's heart to his empty lifestyle.
“ All of the gangster action you could wish for is here, in spades, and it's very bloody too; however, there's plenty of visual artistry too, and some scenes of breathtaking and touching beauty which transcend the film's genre to reach out and touch the viewer's very heart.
“ Kim Ji Y also does an excellent job bringing Kim Ji's vision to life and many of the shots in the film border on breathtaking.
“ Korean action that plays like a pumped-up HK crime film but at the cost of banal emotion .
“ Everyone else is simply brilliant and worth watching.
“ The story lines are formulaic and derivative, consisting largely of how to engineer more ingenious punch-ups, torture or revenge posturing.
“ An empty tankard of vengeance .
“Regardless, a good entertaining movie, which is worth watching alone for the setting, direction and main actor.
“ Instead, emotionally driven dialogues are put in between fighting sequences and slow the flow.
“ The only female in the plot, Heesoo invites Sun-woo out for lunch, and whilst she proclaims that Sun-woo is "boring", this scene is the first time that we see him in a social setting where the talk is not of business.
“ Korea is quite simply producing more interesting movies these days than the rest of Asia combined and is making so much Hollywood or European cinema seem staid and uninteresting.
“ He took the formulaic "mob, love, suffering, revenge and ultra-violence" route, and borrowed countless elements from Park's "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", "Old boy" and "Sympathy for lady vengeance".
“ Even with them, it's still worth watching if you're into this fascinating subgenre of foreign film.
“ The most powerful scene in this movie I thought was really breathtaking was the final scene where after having been shot numerous times and barely breathing, the main character calls the girl he has recently fallen for.
“ It balances a brilliantly done thrilling and action packed film with really clever noir inspired techniques and a decent plot and decent characters, which few films succeed in doing.
“ I fully enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good revenge film or fans of the 'Asia Extreme'DVDs.
“ Something really gripping, surprising or twisted as in a Takashi Miike movie is definitely missing here.