Bullet Points: No Tears for the Dead
No Tears for the Dead features one of the most brutal knife fights that I’ve ever seen on screen. If that doesn’t get you excited then I don’t know what will. Directed by Jeong-beom Lee, who also directed another favorite of mine, The Man from Nowhere, NTFTD offers a look into the mind of a writer/director who has more skills with the camera than most. I believe his masterpiece is still to come.
The Gist: After a hit man finishes a job where he accidentally kills a small child, he is given orders to then go to Korea and kill the mother of the kid. But upon meeting her, he decides to instead protect her from a bunch of killers sent to finish the job.
The Cast: Dong-gun Jang, who played Gon, spent a lot of time training with special operations in order to not look like Mark Wahlburg carrying around a rifle like an idiot. Jang was amazing in the 2004 Korean War hit Brotherhood and some American audiences may know him from the 2010 film The Warrior’s Way. I was really impressed with the amount of depth he was able to give to the character with very little background to work with. I enjoyed Min-hee Kim’s portrayal of Mo-kyeong as well but I had to keep reminding myself why she was so damned depressed the entire movie, her kid just got killed!
Gon undergoes quite the transformation throughout the film.
The Villian: Anytime you’re dealing with assassins and hit men, the line between good and evil gets blurred a little. Gon certainly wasn’t a nice guy; we see him tear through a room with nothing but a silenced pistol and the steady hand of man who has wielded it more than a time a two. His one defining trait is the way that he fights for Mo-kyeong, and by doing so he unleashes an onslaught of hired guns after her. This makes for kickass action scenes, no doubt, but I found that the lack of a truly scary villain made this movie a little less impressive than director Jeong-beom Lee’s previous film, The Man from Nowhere.
Brian Tee and company really know how to enter a room.
The Action: As I said before, Lee really knows how to film an action scene and after the movie is set up the rest of the film is full throttle to the max. There is very little time to catch your breath and even less time for Gon to patch up all of his bullet holes before he’s getting shot at again. I loved that in one scene an automobile did nothing to stop the bullets from shredding through and nearly killed the guy on the other side. Most movies have dumbass heroes diving behind them for cover when in reality “that shit don’t work!” Another good thing about the story set-up is it gives us a chance to see Gon go up against his former colleagues who were just as deadly as Gon. It was sure to lead to a pretty great climactic battle.
The action is an absolute joy to watch. I wish Lee would get $100 million budget and free reign to do as he pleased.
Take it Home:
- Director: This was Jeong-beom Lee’s follow up to The Man from Nowhere, which I think was an outstanding movie.
- Favorite quote: “What do you think this is, a fucking faggot reunion?”
- If you’re gonna hang with a hit man: Never sneak up on him.
- It was only a matter of time: It never fails; eventually some guy starts to try and rape all the women in these movies.
- Traps: Gon is definitely adept at setting up traps and trip wires.
- A Korean “happy ending”: Rarely do you see any Korean movies end with everyone smiling and happy.