7.6/10
29,662
82 user 79 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:

(as Kim Jee-woon)

Writers:

(character created by: A Bittersweet Life), (as Kim Jee-woon)
Reviews
7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

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

A disgraced ex-policeman who runs a small ring of prostitutes finds himself in a race against time when one of his women goes missing.

Director: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Yoon-Seok Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 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
Sinsegye (2013)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A melodrama revolving around an undercover cop who finds it difficult to play both a cop and a goon.

Director: Hoon-jung Park
Stars: Jung-jae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Jung-min Hwang
Action | Crime | Drama
    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, Joon-Hyuk Lee
Hwanghae (2010)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A taxi driver goes on the run after an attempt to carry out a hit on a professor goes terribly awry.

Director: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Jung-woo Ha, Yoon-Seok Kim, Sung-ha Jo
Action | Adventure | Western
    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
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A recently laid off factory worker kidnaps his former boss' friend's 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
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A small time thug collecting debts for the local triad is torn between his criminal aspirations and his devotion to family.

Director: Ha Yoo
Stars: In-sung Jo, Ho-jin Chun, Min Namkoong
Mother (2009)
Action | Crime | Drama
    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, Goo Jin
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In a small Korean province in 1986, three detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 ... See full summary »

Director: Chan-wook Park
Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Byung-Hun Lee, Kang-ho Song
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After being wrongfully imprisoned for thirteen years and having her child taken away from her, a woman seeks revenge through increasingly cruel and brutal means.

Director: Chan-wook Park
Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
... Sun-woo
... Hee-soo
... Mr. Kang (as Kim Young-Chul)
... President Baek (as Jeong-min Hwang)
... Mun-suk
Hae-gon Kim ... Weapon smuggler
Eric Moon ... Gun Dealer's Brother (as Eric)
... Myung-gu
Gi-yeong Lee ... Mu-sung
... Min-gi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
... Mi-Ae
Tae-hee Kim
Mu-yeong Lee
Kwang-rok Oh
Domashchenko Vadym ... Russian weapon smuggler
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 | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | 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 more 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

Just before the bad guys ambush Sun Woo in his flat, he is lying on his couch and the clock beside him reads "9:45" , two shots later, we get a close up of the clock as it switches from 9:39 to 9:40. See more »

Quotes

Sun-woo: Send them away. I have no reason to talk with him.
Mun-suk: C'mon Sun-woo, President Baek is my guest, show some courtesy.
Sun-woo: No, i don't care about courtesy.
Mun-suk: Don't do this to me, you may do this at your own club. Show me some respect.
Sun-woo: To you? You're kidding.
See more »

Connections

References Taxi Driver (1976) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Entertaining enough, if not quite a Ji-woon Kim masterpiece
20 August 2005 | by See 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.


48 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 82 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial