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[Movie 2005] A Bittersweet Life 달콤한 인생

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Lee Byung Hun, Kim Young Chul, Hwang Jung Min, Shin Min Ah, Eric
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From Kim Jee Woon, the director of such hits as The Quiet Family, The Foul King, and A Tale of Two Sisters, comes the stylish, ultraviolent gangster flick, A Bittersweet Life! Lee Byung Hun (Joint Security Area) stars as Sun Woo, a unique character with a curious lifestyle – he's not only a valued gang member and the proprietor of a hotel bar, but also the right-hand man to the powerful gang leader, Mr. Kang (Kim Yeong Chul). When Kang suspects that his beautiful young mistress Hee Soo (Sin Min Ah, from Volcano High) might be messing around with another man, he enlists Sun Woo's help to resolve the matter, commanding him to follow her around to see what information he can dig up. Sun Woo's orders are explicit: if he catches Hee Soo cheating, he is to execute her – no ifs ands or buts about it. However, when Sun Woo spies Hee Soo with her boyfriend, he makes a stunning decision, one that will have major consequences for all involved! Although the hit film Crying Fist barely edged it out for the top spot at the box office, A Bittersweet Life is a success in its own right, hailed by critics as a dazzling neo-noir thriller, chocked full of breathtaking cinematography, intriguing characters, and an ample dosage of violence just for good measure. In addition, Lee Byung Hun is earning critical raves for his performance as Sun Woo, a super-cool hitman with motivations all his own. But in the end, will Sun Woo make it out alive? Find out in A Bittersweet Life, a film that highlights the shadowy underbelly of Korean society, a place where the streets are dark with something more than night. Credit: YesAsia

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THREAD INDEX FOR A BITTERSWEET LIFE

ARTICLES-

24.03.2005 - A Bittersweet Life: the Beginner's guide Page 1 Page 5

ARTWORK-

Banners by LSlSW Page 3

A Bittersweet Life GIFS Page 4

Banner by M Page 5

FILM FESTIVALS/AWARDS

Hawaii International Film Festival (Oct, 20-30th) Page 3 Page 4

Cannes (May 15th, 2005) Page 3 Page 5

Sitges'05 (Oct, 9-18th) - Best Soundtrack Award Page 3

4th annual Korean Film Awards Page 4 results - Page 5

26th Blue Dragon Awards Page 5

25th Korean Critics Pick Best of the Year Page 5

13th Chunsa Film Art Awards Page 5

GALLERY

Lee Byung Hun Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 5

Eric Page 1

Sin Min Ah Page 2

Movie captures from cinema.chosun.com Page 3

Cannes (Cine21) Page 3 Page 5

INTERVIEWS-

An Interview with Film Director Kim Ji-Woon Page 2

mms://media1.maxmovie.com/av/Maxintvkim_sweetlife.wmv

An Interview with Shin Min-Ah

mms://media1.maxmovie.com/av/Maxintv_sinmina.wmv

An Interview with Lee Byung-Hun Page 3

mms://media1.maxmovie.com/av/Maxintvbh.wmv

LINKS-

MAGAZINE-

VOGUE feature 'Life is Sweet' - LBH, SMA & KJW Page 1 Page 2

New Cinema 001 - LBH & BSL Page 1

NEWS UPDATES-

06.10.2005 - PIFF aims high in it's 10th year Page 1

16.10.2005 - Korean megastar to attend U.S. premiere of film Page 3 Page 4

24.10.2004 - Film shooting on the Seoul BridgePage 3

19.10.2005 - S. Korea's 'Antarctic Journal' wins best Asian film award in Spain Page 4

KOREAN ACTOR LEE enjoyed his visit.. Page 4

06.04.2005 - A gangster movie with a touch of realism Page 4

11.09.2005 - More Than a Pretty Face (article on Hwang Jung Min) Page 4

"KAIJU SHAKEDOWN's Best of Asian Cinema 2005" Best Dressed Page 6

08.04.2005 - A Bittersweet Life promos in Japan Page 6

17.01.2006 - Favorite Films of Directors, Actors to Be Screened Page 6

POSTERS-

Page 1 Page 2Page 3

RECAPTURING 2005, YEAR OF BITTERSWEET LIFE

Photos & premiere news Page 6

REVIEWS-

A Bittersweet Life by Darcy Paquet (koreanfilm.org) Page 1

A Bittersweet Life by thunderbolt (Hotelier2002.com) Page 1

FiRST MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2005 Page 2

A Bittersweet Life: Director's Cut on DVDTimes Page 2

A BITTERSWEET LIFE OST Page 2

A Bittersweet Life by Patrick Tay (moviexclusive.com)Page 3

A Bittersweet Life from wikipedia.org Page 4

달콤한 인생 (A Bittersweet Life) DVD Review by X (Twitchfilm.net) Page 5

A Bittersweet Life review by Shogo! (Cinema Eye) Page 5

A Bittersweet life by Equinox21 (City on Fire) Page 5

16.08.2005 - Review by Dave Davis (CHUD.com) Page 5

A Bittersweet Life (2005) A Movie Review by Nix (BeyondHollywood.com) Page 5

21.11.2005 - A Bittersweet Life by Sky Hirschkron (STYLUS) Page 6

SYMPHONY OF VIOLENCE: A BITTERSWEET LIFE by Mike Atherton Page 6

A Bittersweet Life by TimeOut London Page 6

A Bittersweet Life by scottie (IOFILM) Page 6

IUXION'S REVIEW (cityonfire.com) Page 6

SYNOPSES-

YesAsia Page 1

TRAILERS-

Korean version Page 2

mms://media1.maxmovie.com/av/Maxsweetlifetrailer.wmv

Japanese version

mms://www.herald.co.jp/2005/amaijinsei/tokuhou_high.wmv

English version Page 4

http://www.shaw.com.sg/upload/abittersweet...ersweetlife.asf

Theatrical Trailer Page 5

http://www.ziness.com/movie/bittersweetlif...trailer700k.wmv

Teaser Trailer

http://www.ziness.com/movie/bittersweetlife/data/trailer.wmv

VODS-

Making Of Page 2

BSL Japanese DVD Nov 2nd. release Page 4

http://asxfiles.ponycanyon.co.jp/2005movie...50811_V00_m.asx

MUSIC VIDEO Page 5

http://www.ziness.com/movie/bittersweetlif...lcom_mv500k.wmv

http://vod.cine21.com/cine21.com/movie/mvi...3/dalcom_mv.asf

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LOVED this movie. my favorite LBH movie so far - bumped JSA to second place :lol:

i loved everything about this movie. the action scenes were soooooo cool! i'll post more later on.

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I loved the movie. LBH was great in it. It's one of those films where it makes you really angry at one point. Eric wasn't in the film much but it was nice to see him. I've watched it 3 times already.

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January 5, 2005

A Bittersweet Life 
If you couldn't turn back, how far would you go? 


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Lee Byung-hun Stars in "Sweet Life"
Source: The Dong-A Ilbo

He's an actor that can best portray a once-successful man whose life suddenly crashes around him. 

The director Kim Ji Woon of the movie "Sweet Life" thus explains the expression of Lee Byung-hun, who plays a man living life at both ends. In the evening of January 4, the last day of shooting, we met Lee Byung-hun at the residential area of Angook-dong, Jongro, Seoul. We asked Lee, whose popularity is at a peak in Japan, hence the nickname "Byon-sama." "What made you as you are now?" He answered, "Maybe it’s because I haven’t led an overly cautious life." 

Was there a "sweet life" for you as in the movie? 

"I went to the theater on the day my movie premiered. I felt an orgasm just looking at the people who felt what I felt and shed tears with me. It was short but... sweet." 

But there were failures too? 

"To tell you the truth, there were movies that didn't do too well. (laughs) When my first movie failed, they said 'Actors that don't make it in three movies are never called back to Chungmuro (Korea's version of Hollywood).’ When my second and third movie failed to attract audiences, nobody dared to say that in front of me anymore. When my fourth movie didn't do well, everyone started avoiding me. Then things started to change with my fifth movie ("Harmonium in my Memory"), and with my hit sixth movie ("JSA") people started to say that I was greater than Hong Soo-hwan (boxer).” 

In Myungdong, Seoul, they even have socks with your face on the soles. Can you feel the popularity?" 

"Oh, the socks. My manager bought me one. They don't mean to step on me, do they? (laughs) I'm just a regular guy, so of course I'm concerned about my popularity. If the Japanese like melodramas, I think of doing even more of them. But I want to resist that temptation. The fans that I really value are the ones that respect what I do and love me for it." 

Are there any differences between your Korean and Japanese fans? 

"The fans in the Chinese sphere scream until I almost start losing my mind. They're really passionate. Japanese fans start to scream, but then they become quiet in an instant. So much that I can hear myself breathe. When someone cheers by mistake, she stops herself so that she won't disturb the person next to her. Korean fans are a mix of these two characteristics." 

Japanese fans visited Lee Byung-hun's Korean homepage and wrote "Byung Hun ssi," expressing their love in English. 

Would you like to fall into a passionate love? 

"That's what I've been wanting since middle school (laughs). If an actor falls in love, you can express the fineries in his acting. An actor should love a lot, fall into a deeper love, or love someone until it drives you crazy. By love you can start opening your feelings. Of course I don't date in order to act better... (laughs). But it's also stupid to shun dating just because I'm scared of making a scandal or if my fans might turn their backs on me." 

On the set, Lee Byung-heon is nicknamed "the almighty chief Kim," after his character "chief Kim." It's a nickname that shows his dogged spirit, by sleeping for two hours a day and shooting scenes for two full weeks in the rain and in scenes in which he is buried alive. It is also a sign of discontent, as the staff cannot expect Lee to become sick, thus earning a welcome rest due to his sickness. 

The action noir "Sweet Life," in which Lee plays the character of Sun-woo, who wars against a mob by turning a blind eye on the flirting girlfriend of his boss, premieres on April 1.

Thanks to veve111 at EverythingLBH-soompi for the BTS pics of Lee Byunghun at the filming set of A Bittersweet Life, 2004/5

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January 5, 2005

[Interview] Lee Byung-hun Stars in "Sweet Life"
by Seung-Jae Lee (sjda@donga.com) english.donga.com

He's an actor that can best portray a once-successful man whose life suddenly crashes around him. 

The director Kim Ji Woon of the movie "Sweet Life" thus explains the expression of Lee Byung-hun, who plays a man living life at both ends. In the evening of January 4, the last day of shooting, we met Lee Byung-hun at the residential area of Angook-dong, Jongro, Seoul. We asked Lee, whose popularity is at a peak in Japan, hence the nickname "Byon-sama." "What made you as you are now?" He answered, "Maybe it’s because I haven’t led an overly cautious life." 

--Was there a "sweet life" for you as in the movie? 

"I went to the theater on the day my movie premiered. I felt an orgasm just looking at the people who felt what I felt and shed tears with me. It was short but... sweet." 

--But there were failures too? 

"To tell you the truth, there were movies that didn't do too well. (laughs) When my first movie failed, they said 'Actors that don't make it in three movies are never called back to Chungmuro (Korea's version of Hollywood).’ When my second and third movie failed to attract audiences, nobody dared to say that in front of me anymore. When my fourth movie didn't do well, everyone started avoiding me. Then things started to change with my fifth movie ("Harmonium in my Memory"), and with my hit sixth movie ("JSA") people started to say that I was greater than Hong Soo-hwan (boxer).” 

--In Myungdong, Seoul, they even have socks with your face on the soles. Can you feel the popularity?" 

"Oh, the socks. My manager bought me one. They don't mean to step on me, do they? (laughs) I'm just a regular guy, so of course I'm concerned about my popularity. If the Japanese like melodramas, I think of doing even more of them. But I want to resist that temptation. The fans that I really value are the ones that respect what I do and love me for it." 

tenpodo_ms070923a28.jpg

--Are there any differences between your Korean and Japanese fans? 

"The fans in the Chinese sphere scream until I almost start losing my mind. They're really passionate. Japanese fans start to scream, but then they become quiet in an instant. So much that I can hear myself breathe. When someone cheers by mistake, she stops herself so that she won't disturb the person next to her. Korean fans are a mix of these two characteristics." 

Japanese fans visited Lee Byung-hun's Korean homepage and wrote "Byung Hun ssi," expressing their love in English. 

--Would you like to fall into a passionate love? 

"That's what I've been wanting since middle school (laughs). If an actor falls in love, you can express the fineries in his acting. An actor should love a lot, fall into a deeper love, or love someone until it drives you crazy. By love you can start opening your feelings. Of course I don't date in order to act better... (laughs). But it's also stupid to shun dating just because I'm scared of making a scandal or if my fans might turn their backs on me." 

On the set, Lee Byung-heon is nicknamed "the almighty chief Kim," after his character "chief Kim." It's a nickname that shows his dogged spirit, by sleeping for two hours a day and shooting scenes for two full weeks in the rain and in scenes in which he is buried alive. It is also a sign of discontent, as the staff cannot expect Lee to become sick, thus earning a welcome rest due to his sickness. 

The action noir "Sweet Life," in which Lee plays the character of Sun-woo, who wars against a mob by turning a blind eye on the flirting girlfriend of his boss, premieres on April 1. 

 

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A Bittersweet Life

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A Bittersweet Life opens with a gorgeous black and white image of a willow tree tossing in the breeze. As color slowly starts to bleed into the frame, we hear a voiceover by the main character Sun-woo: "On a clear spring day, a disciple looked at some branches blowing in the wind, and asked, 'Master, is it the branches that are moving, or the wind?' Without even looking to where his pupil was pointing, the teacher smiled and said, 'That which moves is neither the branches nor the wind, it is your heart and mind.'"

Sun-woo (Lee Byung-heon) is a man whose heart and mind remain closed to wind, rain, or disruptive emotions. For the past seven years he has served his gangster boss with unflinching exactitude. He manages an upscale bar called La Dolce Vita (which echoes the film's original Korean title), and he despatches people who get in the boss's way with skill and efficiency. The boss (Kim Young-cheol) trusts him so much that he asks Sun-woo to look after his mistress (Shin Min-ah), and to kill her if she is being unfaithful.

A Bittersweet Life posits what might happen if, after all those years, a frozen pysche such as Sun-woo's should suddenly start to melt. This would seem at first to be an overly romantic notion to throw into a Korean-style noir film, where the violence is gut-wrenching and the hero feels no qualms about putting his gun to a man's forehead and pulling the trigger. But the emotions that seep into Sun-woo's mind unleash a recklessness in him, that will later transform into fury once he senses that he has been betrayed.

The familiar stylistic traits of director Kim Jee-woon, seen before in A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), The Foul King (2000), and The Quiet Family (1998), can be spotted here in abundance, and yet he has never made a movie quite like this one. It feels nihilistic at times, and as in Old Boy -- which will surely be compared to this film countless times -- the violence is strong and innovative enough to become a topic of conversation. Mixed in with the cruelty is a bit of absurd, black humor in the middle reels, but not enough to lessen the heavy feel of the work as a whole. The end result is a visually stylish, cool film that is both very commercial (even though it underperformed in both Korea and Japan), and also complex enough to make it hard to pin down.

One way to approach this film is to simply revel in the details. I love the way Lee Byung-heon savors the last bites of his dessert before going downstairs to beat the pulp out of some rival gangsters who have wondered onto his turf. Perhaps in defiance of Korean critics who, after watching A Tale of Two Sisters, accused Kim of having a foot fetish, the director introduces his striking lead actress Shin Min-ah with a huge shot of her bare feet. I love the way Shin Min-ah's home is decorated (production designer Ryu Seong-hee is Korea's most famous; she also worked on Memories of Murder and Old Boy). And finally, I love the ending, even if I can't speak about it here. If the ending of A Tale of Two Sisters disappoints, the final shots of this film make up a sweet, indelible set of images. (Darcy Paquet)

Source: http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm05.html#bittersweet

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Bought a DVD already but haven't had time to watch... I think will now since all of you are saying it's really good! :D

Hear No Evil, I agree with you! BH is the sexiest man ever!..ah the stares and the killer smile...not to mention his acting skills! :wub:

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Thursday, October 6, 2005

PIFF aims high in its 10th year

Busan, Korea's biggest port city, will see more celebrities of the world's film industry than ever during the 10th annual Pusan International Film Festival, which kicks off a nine-day-run tonight in its beautiful sea village of Haeundae and downtown Nampo-dong.

Inaugurated in 1996 as the nation's first-ever international film festival, PIFF has overcome the initial skepticism of many film fans and critics and established a reputation among professionals to grow up as one of Asia's major film festivals in such a short time.

For this year's event, a total of 307 films from 73 countries, classified into nine categories including "Windows of Asia," "New Waves," "World Cinema" and "A Retrospective Show of Korean Films," will be shown in the newly-opening outdoor cinema inside the Haeundae Yachting Center and 30 other indoor and outdoor venues around the city. Some 5,000 domestic and foreign stars, film producers, as well as about 200,000 viewers are expected to attend the film festival.

"At the beginning, we had to spend big to attract more people, but now we're worrying about not enough seats for those who are willing to purchase tickets to join the festival," Kim Dong-ho, the director of the festival, who has been associated with this event ever since its inception, said in an interview. "The number of world-premiers has steeply increased from last year's 40 to 63 this year. But we will keep working on introducing more new films through the upcoming festival."

Among the celebrities to visit the city during the festival are Korean actors Jang Dong-gun and Jung Wu-sung and actresses Kim Hee-sun and Jun Ji-hyun.

In addition to the main events and the opening and closing ceremonies, the PIFF will hold a variety of auxiliary events such as the Pusan Promotion Plan, the biggest free market event in Asian cinema, a hand printing event and reception parties for the participating stars and producers.

The opening ceremony will be held at the Yachting Race Venue in the Bay of Suyong at 8:00 p.m. Taiwanese film "Three Times: Best of Our Times" (2005), directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, will be shown as the opening film. The film shows different love stories in three different times, 1911, 1966 and 2005 by the same actor and actress but in different characters.

The closing ceremony will be held at the same site on Oct. 14, 8:00 p.m., with Korean director Hwang Byung-kook's "My Wedding Campaign" (2005), a melodrama about two single male farmers looking for wives in Uzbekistan, being premiered.

Ten years ago, one of the festival's major goals was finding new Asian film directors, and the goal has been achieved to some degree, as such acclaimed film directors as Korea's Kim Ki-duk and Fruit Chan from Hong Kong made their names through the past festivals.

Other special events include Directors' Choice Troopers and Actors' Choice Troopers, in which moviegoers can meet directors and actors to discuss film in depth. Director Kim Ji-woon of "A Bittersweet Life" and Choi Dong-hoon of "The Big Swindle" will participate in the sessions along with actors and actresses including Moon So-ri of "A Good Lawyer's Wife" and Yoo Ji-tae of "Antarctic Journal."

Other renowned guests expected to visit the festival include British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, Japanese director Seijun Suzuki, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and actor Jackie Chan.

For more information about the 10th Pusan International Film Festival, call (051) 747-3010 / (02) 3675-5097 or visit its official Web site: www.piff.org

(danlee@heraldm.com)

By Lee Yong-sung

2005.10.06

Source: The Korea Herald

http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/SITE/data/htm...00510060022.asp

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Hi, I wrote a review of A Bittersweet Life for the Hotelier2002 forum and would like to share it here.

The following review contains major spoilers.

Introduction

I love A Bittersweet Life. I never thought I would love a violent movie but this one gripped me from beginning to end. I want to watch it again just to savor LBH. His portrayal of Sun-woo blew my mind. He was just magnificent. If it wasn’t 2am when I finished, I would have rerun it immediately.

These are my thoughts about some of the things that have been discussed here in the Hotelier forum. I won’t try to be too analytical because I think this movie is not easily analyzed. It’s beautiful and magical in its own way and some questions may never be answered.

Sun-woo and Hee-soo

I see her as the Indian Summer in his life. Like a breeze gently rustling the leaves of a tree on a muggy day, she stirred in him something that is not easy to pinpoint. I wouldn’t call it love but I would say it was an awareness--the keen realization of “otherness”. Perhaps she reminded him of someone in his past: a lost love, a sibling, a late mother… We will never know.

Before Hee-soo came into his life, the Sun-woo we see in the early part of the movie is arrogant on the outside but empty and nervous inside. He walks with a swagger but look at his face and you see the sallow complexion, the vacant eyes. As he said to his boss in the last part of the movie, what was he but just a “dog” doing his master’s bidding? See the long whip marks on his back. Who put them there? Had he been imprisoned before? Captured before? Humiliated like a dog before?

Why did he keep switching the lights on and off before sleeping? It could be the restlessness in his spirit, the absence of peace that is the price you pay for having enemies. It could be the hidden fear that sleeping made him vulnerable. You can’t protect yourself when you are asleep. And indeed it was when he was sleeping that Baek’s men came into his apartment and thus began the living hell that was the middle part of the movie.

Something happened when he met Hee-soo. Here was a girl young enough to be the daughter of his boss. Tall and beautiful, she could be a sultry temptress but no, she was simple and sweet and she played the cello beautifully. But she was also a two-timer. She had Sun-woo’s rich and powerful boss for a sugar daddy, and she had her own boyfriend.

Why did Sun-woo spare her life and that of her boyfriend? If he was in love with her, he could have spared just Hee-soo and killed the guy. I believe he spared them both because he genuinely empathized with the couple. “Don’t see each other again. Erase this memory as if it had never happened.” I’m conjecturing here but again I think it had something to do with his own past. Perhaps he too had been caught in a similar situation years ago. If he could walk away and erase those memories, why couldn’t she? To survive was more important than anything else. What’s the point of loving if the price you have to pay is death?

Did he spare her also because he was beginning to fall in love? I don’t think so. In her presence he experienced a sweetness that made him forget momentarily the bitterness that was his mongrel existence. To sit in the studio and hear her play her cello, he could close his eyes and just lose himself in the music. There was a purity about her that touched him, yet when you think about it, she wasn’t innocent at all. She had a physical relationship with her two concurrent boyfriends.

Sun-woo and his enemies

Why was Sun-woo so nervous when he was with the gun dealer? There are signs from the beginning that Sun-woo could be nervous and jumpy inside. He was a man on the edge. He was flesh and blood, not a man of steel. His fears were so apparent when he was being mutilated, beaten to a pulp, thrown into the pit and left to die.

To me, his nervousness with the gun dealer was perfectly understandable. The phone-call to President Han could expose his bluff any moment and then what would happen? The gun dealer could finish him off with one shot. His enemies could come any moment. The same hell would repeat itself but in even more nightmarish proportions. Not just his finger this time but a hand, an arm… His burial pit could be three times deeper than the one he barely managed to crawl his way out just days ago.

About him not knowing how to handle a gun, that’s not necessarily odd. President Baek didn’t carry a gun too and neither did Sun-woo’s boss. And about the comical duo who argued in the car, I thought that whole scene was really tense actually. Here were the two clowns and there was Sun-woo, nervously looking around to see if he had been spotted. He was so exposed out there in the open.

This is the first time I’m watching an LBH movie where the story revolves entirely around him. He’s in almost very frame, isn’t he? I’m completely awed by him here. My admiration for him, already so deep-seated, rose several notches last night as I sat mesmerized in front of the TV. To me, LBH’s in the same league as Choi Min-shik. It’s not just because the role is so physically punishing. It’s also the way he portrayed the complexities of his character so convincingly. I felt his pain, bewilderment and rage so acutely.

Finally, was it all just a dream? Of course not.

(credit: Hotelier2002.com/forum)

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I finally found the time this morning and watched BSL! and all I can say is Good Lord! I fell in luv with BH 1000x more!!!!!! :wub: His acting and kicking skills are so awesome....awww! the torture scene and the scene where he was buried alive!!!...it was amazing!..... BSL is now tops on my list of fave BH movies! :P

you guys are right about this movie! *thumbsup*

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The following was first posted in the Hotelier2002.com forum:

Bonus Features (Director's Cut version)

I was watching the Deleted/Alternate Scenes in my bonus disk yesterday. I watched the first batch (about 6-7 scenes) and was very surprised to note that they were all non-violent scenes. If these scenes had been included in the version that was released, I think the movie would have taken on a decidedly different feel. I guess the director wanted it to be more action noir than anything else and so he deleted the scenes that would have given us more insight into the minds of the main characters.

These are some of the deleted scenes (not in order):

1) Before Sun-woo meets his boss Kang at the restaurant, the two of them play golf together. This scene would have shown us that SW was close to his boss and that they did things together.

2) At the restaurant after Kang tells SW that he has a girlfriend and asks SW to watch Hee-soo, he does something quite unexpected. He takes out a photo of HS and shows it rather shyly to SW. "Pretty?" he asks SW.

The latter is taken aback and sort of nods his head but Kang is quite persistent in asking SW to look at the photo and comment on it. It's like a guy who's so proud of his girlfriend's beauty and wants everyone to know yet is bashful about it at the same time. SW looked at the photo and reacted rather shyly and ambiguously to it, looking and yet not looking. Do I make sense?

After that scene, we see the two men standing outside the restaurant and there is some hidden undercurrent between them, a sort of awkwardness you feel when you know too much about another person or has revealed too much about yourself.

*sigh* I wish this deleted scene had been left intact!

3) When SW went to HS's apartment the first time, he sat and waited in the living room. He saw this toy (I don't know the name) - a kind of painted doll-like thing that you open and there's another doll inside and you keep opening until you see the tiniest doll. Well, he fidgeted with it and opened the whole thing and suddenly he heard HS coming into the room.

SW was so startled and embarrassed when he saw HS standing in front of him in her bathrobe. He tried hurriedly to put the doll back but only succeeded in scattering the pieces on the table and floor. Here we see a very flustered SW.

HS then changes behind a screen. Hmm, did I say yesterday she wasn't a sultry temptress? I take back my words! We then have a very alluring closeup of her feet slipping into a pair of purple high-heels (think In the Mood for Love). She then goes on her bed supposedly to find something and her pose on the bed is very sexual and seductive. Now all this time, SW is presumably looking at her because her apartment is a studio and only a see-through screen separates her bed from the living room.

4) SW is in a meeting with a few people from the hotel, including a chef and presumably other managers. The meeting is at a corner of the La Dolce Vita bar/restaurant. Suddenly he sees HS walking into the bar. He's unable to concentrate on the meeting after seeing her and ends the meeting quickly.

Hmm... these deleted scenes would have shown that SW was developing some strong feelings for HS!!

I'll watch the rest of the deleted scenes tonight. There are also interviews with the cast, making clips, detailed behind-the-scenes look at the setting, music arrangements, etc. Very interesting to see how the buried-in-the-mud scene was done. It was all real! There's also a clip of LBH, SMA and the PD at Cannes.

My impression of LBH after watching the Special Features? He's very friendly, approachable, playful, caring, and extremely dedicated! Kudos to him!!!

(credit: thunderbolt, hotelier2002.com/forum)

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Thanks chula & chibikko for the BSL caps, Gigi for the review and magazine caps & to Thunder especially for sharing the indepth movie review plus the additional personal DVD write-up, appreciate all very much. Keep on sharing your thoughts and comments on this awesome, stylish & super-cool movie. :lol:

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Thanks thunderbolt and everyone else who unselfishly and eloquently shared their thoughts on the movie! :) I too had my misgivings initially about watching this film given the lukewarm reception it got in korea, and was seemingly equally panned by critics, but relying solely from experience, a LBH movie never disappointed so I decided to give it a chance 2 weekends ago, and just as well that I did, because indeed the movie added more reasons to why this guy has wormed his way into my heart quite unexpectedly and in such a short time too! :P

'A Bittersweet Life' - the Beginner's Guide

First 'Yonsama', Now 'Byonsama'

It is possible to confuse the director with the movie star. Severe in a knitted hat and sunglasses, director Kim Ji-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 Ji-woon adds.

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.¡±

Violence

¡°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 Ji-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 Ji-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 Ji-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 Ji-woon¡¯s aesthetic pessimism.

(englishnews@chosun.com )

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FiRST MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2005

filmreview

by movie fans for movie fans

EDITED BY JASON F. JOHNSON

BITTERSWEET LIFE

Our new hero, Lee Byung-hun.

Lee Byung-hun justifies his thugs. And how.

firstsept014yb.th.jpg firstsept022ob.th.jpg firstsept035xn.th.jpg

^ click to enlarge captures

MOVIE SPECS

_____________________________________________________________

Director: Kim Ji-woon

Cast:

Lee Byung-hun Sun-woo

Shin Min-a Hee-soo

Kim Young-chul Mr. Kang

Hwang Jeong-min President Baek

Running Time: 120 minutes

Distributor: InnoForm Media

Release Date: August 18

Rated: TBA

_____________________________________________________________

The character Lee Byung-hun play here, Sun-woo, is the man every teenage boys dream of being – and many older gentlemen would like to have been. He's a gangster, specifically an enforcer, but that's not really important. To him it's just like any other, and one he does particularly well. At one point in the film someone asks what it's like being an enforcer, and he answers 'That's not me'. And he's right. He is a man of honour in a profession without honour. He is a man devoted to his craft (martial arts) surrounded by a bunch of dumb, lazy thugs. He is a man of good habits living in a dangerous, licentious nightworld. What he is is a cowboy. A samurai. He's too good for the world. He's doomed.

This is truly the most charismatic performance we have seen in 2005, and there have been some good ones (Mickey Rourke's Marv in Sin City and the penguins in March of the Penguins spring immediately to mind).

Sometimes an actor shares so much of his own life force with a character that it's almost as if he creates a new human being, as if this fictional person on the cinema screen should be given honorary Earth citizenship. The camera almost never strays from Lee Byung-hun for the entire two-hour runningtime of the picture, and not once during those 120 minutes do we think: there is a movie character. What we think is: there is a man. And what a man.

When we are first introduced to Sun-woo, he is immaculately groomed, dressed in a black suit and tie, and enjoying a designer pastry in an upscale restaurant. A waiter informs him that he is needed elsewhere, but before attending to his business (what could it be?), he lingers over his desert, savoring a final spoonful. Perhaps he intuits that this will be the last moment of peace he will ever know. There follows a scene in which Sun-woo, with terrific élan, kicks the crap out of three lowlifes who unfortunately turns out to be the underlings of Baek, a powerful gang leader. Baek asks for an apology from Sun-woo for thumping his men, but none is forthcoming. Can you smell trouble? Unfortunately, Sun-woo can't. It's his middle name.

And speaking of trouble, we haven't even gotten to the girl yet. She's Hee-soo (played by the delectable Shin Min-a) and she's the girlfriend of Sun-woo's boss, Kang. When Kang goes away on business, he asks Sun-woo to look after the girl, but with a minor addendum that Sun-woo should kill her if he finds her fooling around with another guy. Sun-woo has no problem with this in principle, but then when he inevitably finds Hee-soo cheating, he doesn't have the heart to dispatch her. Not after she smiled at him so nicely when she was playing her cello. And besides, just look at her pretty hair! If you couldn't smell trouble before, you should be able to catch a whiff now.

Sun-woo's two lapses in judgment -1) failing to apologize to Baek and 2) failing to kill Hee-soo prove to be fateful, and perhaps even fatal (we won't tell). Baek hires a sociopathic butcher in a fisherman's hat to torture an apology out of Sun-woo. Kang, no less sadistic, orders Sun-woo to be buried alive. As it happens, Sun-woo endures both ordeals over the course of one-hellish night, and let's just say he wakes up the next morning on the wrong side of the bed. This gloomy gus wants revenge, the bloodier the better.

The irony that Sun-woo's principles lead to his persecution will not be lost on anyone who has ever suffered under an insane boss or an incompetent teacher or an immoral family member. It is not Sun-woo's sins or faults that lead to his downfall, but rather his virtues. Perhaps he could be seen as arrogant, but we see his arrogance as a form of innocence; he just wants to do his job well and be a relatively decent man without having to play the silly – make that stupid – games that people play. All we can say is, we feel your pain, dude, and we're sure that there are many other like-minded souls who will as well. At least we hope so. Misery loves company.

Bittersweet Life reminds us yet again why gangsters films have always been and will always be popular: gangsters get to act as tough as we all feel on the inside, but can never let anyone see on the outside. We'd like to personally thank Lee Byung-hun for the catharsis.

AT A GLANCE

_____________________________________________________________

SYNOPSIS

Sun-woo is an enforcer for a mob-owned hotel. He runs into trouble with a rival gang when he ejects one of his more unruly members from the premises. He gets in even more trouble when he baby-sits his boss' girl, and lets her get away with cheating. Sun-woo's problems culminate in one hellish night, during which he is tortured and buried alive. After a miraculous and spectacular escape, he vows revenge.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Bittersweet Life will attract primarily young filmgoers who are hip to all things K, and should ultimately win a small cult following.

SEE ALSO

There are elements that remind us very much of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. There are also dashes of Sergio Leone and John Woo. Also slightly similar to the Korean film OldBoy.

THE VERDICT

_____________________________________________________________

Lee gives an amazingly charismatic performance in this super-stylish K-flick. Awesome.

RATING

4½ stars out of 5

Credits: Singapore's FiRST Magazine - issue 035, September 2005. Captures courtesy of Lucy @ LBH.SG

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The following was first posted in the Hotelier2002.com forum:

[These are some of the deleted scenes (not in order):

1) Before Sun-woo meets his boss Kang at the restaurant, the two of them play golf together. This scene would have shown us that SW was close to his boss and that they did things together.

2) At the restaurant after Kang tells SW that he has a girlfriend and asks SW to watch Hee-soo, he does something quite unexpected. He takes out a photo of HS and shows it rather shyly to SW. "Pretty?" he asks SW.

3) When SW went to HS's apartment the first time, he sat and waited in the living room. He saw this toy (I don't know the name) - a kind of painted doll-like thing that you open and there's another doll inside and you keep opening until you see the tiniest doll. Well, he fidgeted with it and opened the whole thing and suddenly he heard HS coming into the room.

4) SW is in a meeting with a few people from the hotel, including a chef and presumably other managers. The meeting is at a corner of the La Dolce Vita bar/restaurant. Suddenly he sees HS walking into the bar. He's unable to concentrate on the meeting after seeing her and ends the meeting quickly.

Hmm... these deleted scenes would have shown that SW was developing some strong feelings for HS!!

(credit: thunderbolt, hotelier2002.com/forum)

Thunderbolt, are these scenes from the Korean DVD version? Just read from somebody's blog dated a few months back that Bittersweet Life was being re-edited for the Korean DVD release. It said "the director was unhappy with some elements of the film and has gone back to correct those unnamed issues," and that "this new cut will be the one featured in the Korean DVD release."

Those deleted scenes would've given more insight into LBH's character's motivations about doing what he did (ie. deciding to spare shin min ah and her paramour's lives), though some glimpses of tenderness, vulnerability, and susceptibility to shin min ah's charms could be gleaned from lbh's demeanor those few times he spent with her. I especially liked that last scene where he broke into a wide smile watching her play the cello, either simply caught up in the moment or lost in a biting memory.

Not quite certain whether i too have a foot fetish, but LBH does have a beautiful pair of feet! :P

Will be sure to get a copy of the Korean DVD version. In the meantime, my edited vcd will have to keep me warm for now! :D

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