|A Bittersweet Life (2005)|
|Starring:||Lee Byung-hun, Hwang Jeong-min and Kim Yeong-cheol|
|The Plot: Kim Sun-woo (Lee Byung-hun) works as an enforcer for his employer, president Kang, where he looks after his safety and investments. When Kang picks Sun-woo to look after his new, and young, girlfriend, it isn’t just for her safety. He wants him to keep an eye open and see if she’s sneaking off with another man. Sun-woo is told that if she is, he is to finish them both off. Soon after Sun-woo begins his mission, he discovers that the girl is indeed cheating on her powerful lover. Sun-woo then decides to confront the two but is unable to bring himself to actually commit the murder, so instead he asks that the two never see one another. However, Kang finds out eventually and seeks to kill Sun-woo. After capturing and torturing our leading man, Sun-woo eventually escapes the claws of his enemies and sets out on a path of vengeance!|
Korean superstar and well beloved man of action Lee Byung-hun is certainly the centerpiece for Kim Ji-woon’s film, and rightfully so. I sometimes like to re-imagine casting for big films and see if I can picture a film without its lead star. Like, could I imagine Platoon without Charlie Sheen? I actually could, and I could just as well see it being equally as successful. The reason, I imagine, is that such a role revolves entirely around the script and how the character was written down on the page. Some performances however rely on an actor with a notable charisma and chemistry with his fellow actors. Often you’ll find such roles in genre-cinema, which is why actors such as Chow Yun-Fat and Bruce Campbell have developed such rabid fan-bases. Lee Byung-hun’s turn here as the king of cool, Sun-moo, is also such a role. Although the script is well written and the performances by the rest of the cast are universally great, Lee Byung-hun’s quiet cool is what truly carries the movie. His character is introspective and quiet when necessary, but there is a ferocity that comes out with only a moment’s notice. He can go from brooding to a martial arts demon within only a moment, and although he has the face of a pretty boy he surely demonstrates himself as a capable badass when it comes to the fight choreography.