Everything is believable, from the small things like the way in which the main character first falls in love with his boss's girlfriend because of the delicate curve of her neck and the way the main character fumbles with a gun for the first time while he tries to put it together, to the theme of revenge that this films is propelled by.
The main character (Sun-Woo) has lived most of his life serving his 'Hyong-Nim' (Korean for boss in the gangster underworld). He has in fact dedicated 7 years of his life to him, taking care of the dirty work his dirty work. His boss (Mr.Kang) sees Sun-Woo as one of his most trusted 'Ah-Ho' (Korean for underling), and this is where you recognised that family-based element of the gangster underworld. In Korea, the society is largely based on a strict hierarchal system, where you must respect your elders and demand respect from people younger than you. Although right now, Korea is slowly moving away from convention and traditions, the underworld of gangs stills strictly upholds this hierarchal system. The theme of revenge stems from this, as Mr.Kang feels like a betrayed father, with his underling, Sun-Woo protects his boss's girlfriend from getting caught cheating. Mr. Kang follows the protocol of the underworld and decides to punish Sun-Woo who has been like a son to him. Before Sun-Woo suffers the punishment, Mr.Kang asks him why did he betray him, to which Sun-Woo replies, "I thought if she promised never to cheat on you, everything would be back to normal... I thought everything would be OK." To this, Mr.Kang says, "No, its OK, tell me the truth... It's because you fell for her, isn't it?" Sun-Woo cannot lie as he stays silent, confused. As he kneels down in the mud in this scene, you see on the main characters face the realisation that after all this time of never falling in love with anyone, the one girl that turned his head was his boss's girlfriend. Earlier in the movie, there is a scene where Mr.Kang and Sun-Woo have dinner together as father and son in a family of the underworld, where Mr.Kang says that he hates being lied to and that if Sun-Woo caught his young girlfriend cheating, that Sun-Woo should kill her. Mr.Kang contradicts himself here, as he is in fact married with a wife who he is cheating on by being with this new younger girlfriend. Mr.Kang believes that in the underworld of gangsters, if your boss says something and he is wrong, you must still agree and follow his lead. There is a Japanese gangster saying, "If your boss says black is white and white is black, you must agree. If he says there is no sky, then to you there is no sky." Mr.Kang punishes Sun-Woo for what he says is betrayal of the code of master and disciple hierarchy. Sun-Woo almost loses his life as he refuses to be punished, fighting against gangsters that he was once the general of. This is where the main character's 'Hamlet-styled' contemplation of revenge takes place. As the story shows the audience Sun-Woo breaking away from tradition and convention by refusing punishment set down by his elder, we also see the main character breaking away from the tradition of close quarter combat as he tries to acquire firearms. To the main character, his boss's actions confuse him. Sun-Woo spent 7 years of his life serving Mr.Kang, and in the final scene Sun-Woo confronts Mr.Kang with this fact. Sun-Woo screams, "I rotted away serving you for 7 years! Were you really going to kill me?!" To Sun-Woo, Mr.Kang's actions were too severe. Ironically, this time its Sun-Woo asking Mr.Kang "No, its OK, tell me the truth... Tell me why you really tried to kill me." At this moment, we see that Mr.Kang chose to punish Sun-Woo, not because he wanted to uphold the law of the underworld, but because he was simply jealous of Sun-Woo, of Sun-Woo's youth. Mr.Kang's reason for cheating on his own wife with a younger woman may also suggest Mr.Kang's thirst for youth. Sun-Woo points pistol at his own boss, his father his mentor and I truly expected him not to fire, but I was totally wrong. As Mr.Kang's character may symbolize tradition and convention, Sun-Woo strikes him down as a unpredictable force of chaos and revolution. The way in which we try and control our lives could be seen as the convention of the hierarchal system where humans try to uphold peace and order. Through the main character, this story depicts how bullshit the 'system' is and that life can prove to be utter chaos the more we try to control it and bring order to it. 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. As she picks up, he drops the phone and can only hear her voice. Comforted only by her voice saying "Yeo Boh Sae Yo?" (Korean way of asking who is it on the phone) he looks up to see wind blowing in the leaves of a tree. He then seems to be lost in a dream, in his final moments of living. But then his dream is cut very shot, ALL OF A SUDDEN by a single shot to his head. It almost as if he was dreaming and then woke up to see his life, to see nothing.
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