Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Writer/director Kim Jee-woon followed up his hit horror film, A Tale of Two Sisters, with this violent crime drama, A Bittersweet Life. Sun-woo (Lee Byeong-heon of Joint Security Area) is a devastatingly effective, but businesslike enforcer for Mr. Kang (Kim Young-cheol), a mob boss who owns La Dolce Vita, the Seoul nightclub where Sun-woo employs the sloppier, less reliable Mun-suk (Kim Rwe-ha of Memories of Murder) to keep things running smoothly. Kang is involved in a developing feud with another boss, President Baek (Hwang Jeong-min), when he goes on a business trip, leaving Sun-woo in charge, and discreetly asking him for a special favor. There's a "special" young woman he's been seeing, Hee-soo (Shin Min-ah of Volcano High). He suspects she's been seeing another man, and he asks Sun-woo to look after her while he's gone, and find out if she's cheating on him. If Sun-woo catches them together, Kang tells him, he should either phone Kang and tell him, or "finish them off yourself." But Sun-woo finds himself fascinated with Hee-soo, a cellist, and his inability to follow Kang's orders soon brings a world of trouble down on his head. Of course, Sun-woo is fully capable of making some trouble of his own. A Bittersweet Life was shown at the 2006 New York Asian Film Festival, presented by Subway Cinema.
High Artistic Quality