Director Kim Jee-woon
and Lee Byung-hun
It is possible to confuse the director with the movie star. Severe in a knitted hat and sunglasses, director Kim Jee-woon
, 41, starts the banter by saying, "If we pose together you might get buried in the picture". Lee Byung-hun
, 35, in ripped jeans, counterattacked: "You make fun of my ideas, but you always end up incorporating them in your work".
The movie "A Bittersweet Life
" created by the director of the blockbusters "The Quiet Family
", "The Foul King
" and "A Tale of Two Sisters
" and the ambitious actor who watches movies he stars in for more than 20 times, is a story of the wretched crash of a gangster who once seemed to have everything going for him. Here we introduce you to the movie and the story that lies behind it.
Espresso or Style
"There really was a gangster like that in real life. "There really was a gangster like that in real life. He graduated from a very prominent university, only wore black suits and was the epitome of good manners. He was greeted with bows and called "big brother" everywhere he went", says Lee Byung-hun
. "The espresso Lee Byung-hun
enjoys in the movie contains both sweetness and bitterness. That is life, and that is what our movie is about", Kim Jee-woon
What separates "A Bittersweet Life
" from other genre movies is its style. While wearing a tailored black suit and insisting on drinking espresso, Lee Byung-hun
declares, "I'm not a bum".
"It must be a scene never seen in any other Korean action movies. The intense visual impact of the blazing timber enthralled me". (Lee Byung-hun
) "As the movie progresses, so does the level of violence. It parallels Byeong-hun's emotional state in the movie. Paradoxically, through violence I wanted to evoke sympathy towards these men, with its recklessness and meaninglessness". (Kim Jee-woon
The characters' only method of communication is violence. In the same way he portrayed the anxiety of the girl in "A Tale of Two Sisters
" through the flower patterned wallpaper of primary colors, the director reveals the inner state of the wrecked man through the intensity of the blazing lumber and the dampness of a deep pit.
Shadow boxing or noir
"Choosing the genre is like choosing the subject. It is the genre that can best express what I wish to convey". (Kim Jee-woon
) "Honestly, I wanted to watch that movie. So I willingly participated". (Lee Byung-hun
Shadow boxing in the Sky Lounge Hotel, Lee in the movie admires his reflection in the window. But his dark shadow is contrasted with the city's lights. It is a scene that emphasizes the noir genre's focus on the dark inner self and its collapse.
A 38-caliber revolver and a fall
"Starting his revenge, he leaves the traditional weapon behind and chooses the gun. We start with his awkward expression when making a deal with an arms dealer until we reach his heroic but tragic fall from power". (Lee Byung-hun
) "A gun is a masculine form of power. Doesn't it symbolize both the glory and the fall?" (Kim Jee-woon
The noir gunfight in the latter half of the movie using an arsenal of Russian and American guns sets a stark contrast with the first half.
La Dolce Vita or A Bittersweet Life
Much of the movie is set in a hotel bar called La Dolce Vita. As Federico Fellini made clear in the movie of the same title (1960), bitterness too often follows a sweet choice. This is Kim Jee-woon
's aesthetic pessimism.