In typical Korean style fashion, No Tears For The Dead is a bloody action packed movie aimed to please independent and foreign film junkies. If you have a special place in your heart for Asian films, you’re likely the type who understands the reasoning behind your love for the culture. Being half Korean, I’m biased but my filmmaker side sees the potential and can understand the Korean style of no-holds barred approach to movie making. It’s anything goes, as Asian filmmakers especially Koreans tend to have a running theme behind their movies. It’s usually either action packed vengeance plots or supernatural ghost horror stories.
Written and Directed by South Korean Jeong-beom Lee, No Tears For The Dead is about hitman, Gon (Dong-gun Jang), who in the first few minutes of the film we see committing some serious butt-kicking. Gon is a damn good fighter and a hired killer, but in a blind-rage shoot out he accidentally kills a young girl, which ultimately sends him into a tailspin of regret and depression. So, when he’s ordered by the crime boss to tie up loose ends and also kill the girl’s mother (Min-hee Kim), he is conflicted.
Through series of flashbacks, we quickly learn that Gon deals with mother issues, as his own mother abandoned him when he was very young. In one flashback, his mother orders him to not cry even as she kicks him out of the car. His tough exterior only hides the vulnerable little boy inside, one who has longed for the parental guidance and nurture he never received. And now he has caused similar despair.
As deadly and lethal as he is, nonetheless Gon is a conflicted character afflicted by anger, emotional pain and yet with a conscience. This is what makes him a three-dimensional character, as vulnerable as he is deadly. He is a killer with a moral code and he is willing to risk his own life to do the right thing.
That aside, the plot is a fairly predictable one. Having said this, it still doesn’t take away from the fantastic cinematography and bloody fighting scenes. I found it interesting that the DVD provided four options for your viewing pleasure. You could watch the movie in four different audio configurations, based upon if you prefer English subtitles or dubbed voiceovers.
I watched the movie using the latter setting with Dolby Surround Sound. The dubbing is apparent, and I think that if I were to watch it again I would prefer the English subtitles because it’s a little more authentic to here the actors speak Korean and that makes the scenes less cheesy. Dubbing usually takes away from movies. But, I was glad the option was available to some of us lazy English-only speakers who don’t feel like reading the subtitles.
There are moments in the film when I was moved, and the acting by Dong-gun Jang was impressive. If you are looking for a bloody, action-packed rental, you should seriously consider No Tears For The Dead. It quenches your thirst for a foreign film and is smartly written and directed with American viewers in mind.
Like I said, it is a bit predictable; however, what Hollywood films aren’t these days? I am assuming not everyone agrees with me, as it didn’t get reviewed well on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB. When watching films I like to compare apples to apples, so to speak. Therefore, I am purely making judgment on the film based on its genre. It’s a foreign indie film with a specific style that is typical within the Asian film market. Based on this, I found the film entertaining and action packed. No Tears For The Dead is a decent rental at the very least.
My Redbox Vote: Definitely worth the $1.50 if you are a Korean film/Asian film fan. If you aren’t and you also dislike formulaic predictability, you’ll likely want to skip it.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 29% (Lower than I expected.)