No Blood No Tears (2002)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Country: Korea
Director: Ryu Seung-Wan
Producer: Kim Sung-Jae
Writer: Ryu Seung-Wan, Jeong Jin-Wan
Cast: Jun Do-Yeon, Lee Hye-Yeong, Jung Jae-Young

Running Time: 116 min.

Plot: Two women play it by the guys’ rules and make it their own. Everyone is after the same bag of cash in a dog-eat-dog world

Ryu Seung-Wang’s (???) slick and fast-moving second film (following on the heels of his thrilling debut, Die Bad) is real genre, a crime caper with bite, humor, and the kind of wit you can’t just buy. Saxophones growl low as we drift out of the darkness into the world of illegal dog-fighting. Smack in the middle of this world of crime is a young gangster’s moll who is oppressed and abused by her vicious boyfriend, who is a failed boxer. Feeling helpless and down on her luck, the young woman quite by accident encounters an older woman, a strong and capable taxi-driver and single mother (she runs her sportscar into the older woman’s taxi). When it turns out that the taxi-driver is actually a parolee, a famous safecracker who has just spent a hefty prison term separated from her child, the young woman recruits her into a scheme to rip off the mob and steal the winnings from a fixed dogfight.

As one might expect, the two actresses are fabulous in these roles. You feel as if you could watch hours and hours of their adventures simply enraptured. But also very impressive is the actor who plays Bulldog, the abusive boyfriend. If there can be said to be a flaw in this shrewdly crafted movie, it is that Ryu seems to follow Bulldog too intently as the film goes on, watching him violently self-destruct while the two women take a temporary back-seat in the proceedings. But the film remains expertly done, entertaining and surprising, with a truly gorgeous look and feel. As entertaining a movie as one will see this year or any other.

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