MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 717 this week

A Bittersweet Life (2005)
"Dalkomhan insaeng" (original title)

7.7
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 21,533 users  
Reviews: 71 user | 74 critic

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

Director:

(as Kim Jee-woon)

Writer:

(as Kim Jee-woon)
0Check in
0Share...

IMDb Picks: April

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in April.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 41 titles
created 22 May 2011
 
a list of 39 titles
created 09 Jun 2011
 
a list of 40 titles
created 21 Aug 2011
 
a list of 32 titles
created 25 Aug 2012
 
a list of 37 titles
created 10 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: A Bittersweet Life (2005)

A Bittersweet Life (2005) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of A Bittersweet Life.
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Chaser (2008)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A cash-strapped pimp and former police detective draws upon the skills of his old job to track down his missing stable of prostitutes.

Director: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Yun-seok Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.

Director: Jee-Woon Kim
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung
Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases.

Director: Jee-Woon Kim
Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, In-seo Kim
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug- and organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.

Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Stars: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim
New World (2013)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Story about a conflict between the police and the mob through the eyes of an undercover cop.

Director: Hoon-jung Park
Stars: Jung-Jae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Jeong-min Hwang
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Byung-du is a 29-year-old career criminal, working for the middle-rank enforcer Sang-chul. Burdened with a terminally ill mother and taking care of younger siblings, Byung-du is feeling ... See full summary »

Director: Ha Yoo
Stars: Ho-jin Chun, In-jae Heo, Ku Jin
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months. He plays ... See full summary »

Director: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Jung-woo Ha, Yun-seok Kim, Sung Ha Jo
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A recently laid off factory worker kidnaps his former boss' daughter, hoping to use the ransom money to pay for his sister's kidney transplant.

Director: Chan-wook Park
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin, Doona Bae
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

After a 13-year imprisonment for the kidnap and murder of a 6 year old boy, beautiful Lee Guem-ja starts seeking revenge on the man that was really responsible for the boy's death. With the... See full summary »

Director: Chan-wook Park
Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim
Mother (2009)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder.

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Stars: Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won, Ku Jin
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In 1986, in the province of Gyunggi, in South Korea, a second young and beautiful woman is found dead, raped and tied and gagged with her underwear. Detective Park Doo-Man and Detective Cho... See full summary »

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.

Director: Jee-Woon Kim
Stars: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
President Baek
Yu-mi Jeong
Ku Jin ...
Min-gi
Hae-gon Kim ...
Weapon smuggler
Roe-ha Kim ...
Mun-suk
Yeong-cheol Kim ...
Mr. Kang (as Kim Young-Chul)
...
Gi-yeong Lee ...
Mu-sung
Mu-yeong Lee
Eric Moon ...
Gun Dealer's Brother (as Eric)
Dal-su Oh ...
Myung-gu
Kwang-rok Oh
Min-a Shin ...
Hee-soo
Sang-Jeon Woo
Edit

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 | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

1 April 2005 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

A Bittersweet Life  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The narration that opens and closes the film are Buddhist parables. 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

Sun-woo: A disciple asked his master, "Do the leaves flow or is it the wind?" His master replied, "No, it is the heart and the mind."
See more »

Connections

References Taxi Driver (1976) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A slick and stylish revenge drama.
4 December 2006 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

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. 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.

Byung-hun Lee plays Sun-woo, cooler-than-cool right-hand man to crime boss Kang, and manager of a swish hotel. Kang asks Sun-woo to keep an eye on his young girlfriend, Hee-Soo, who he suspects is seeing another man; in the event of his suspicions proving to be true, Sun-woo is to kill the girl and her lover.

But when Sun-woo does eventually discover Hee-Soo with another man, he grants the young couple mercy. Angered at Sun-woo disobeying his orders, Kang instructs his men to hunt him down and make him pay for his treachery.

They catch him, and submit him to mental and physical torture but, before they are able to kill him, Sun-woo escapes. An extremely miffed Sun-woo then sets about exacting revenge on those responsible for trying to bump him off.

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.

As one would expect, there is plenty of violence, which slowly escalates until the inevitable final showdown between Sun-woo and Kang. These scenes are handled with aplomb and will go down well with fans of action cinema.

With an ending that is open to interpretation by the viewer, A Bittersweet Life leaves one thinking about the film long after the credits have rolled. Despite its occasional flaws and peculiarities (I still don't understand why the majority of the Korean gangsters don't have guns?), I recommend fans of Asian cinema seek this one out, before the inevitable Hollywood remake rears its ugly head.


10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
any other korean films like this? yokojakomoko
Great ending scene thingoleros
Hollywood remake is being developed hkchohk-1
Two Scorsese References delaraza8604
Denzel cast to play Sun-Woo in the Remake... cksdayoff
heres my take, btw am i just missing something everyone else sees? Serenit-y
Discuss A Bittersweet Life (2005) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?