J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No Tears for the Dead: Big Hitmen Don’t Cry

As a hitman for the mob, Gon is sure to have mother issues. He is also living with a case of soul-crushing guilt. Not surprisingly, he acts somewhat erratically on his latest job. In fact, he starts protecting the woman he is supposed to kill. It turns out they have been tragically linked by fate in Lee Jeong-beom’s No Tears for the Dead (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

When a crooked investment banker tries to sell the Chinese Triad’s offshore banking information to the Russian mob, Gon is dispatched by their Korean allies to kill everyone involved. Unfortunately, there were two very awkward complications. Gon accidentally killed the banker’s young daughter, but he failed to recover the flashdrive in question. He and his boss have very different opinions regarding which is more important.

Gon would prefer to sink into oblivion, but the boss insists he travel home from America to finish the job. Unbeknownst to her, the little girl’s grieving mother Mo-gyeong will soon have possession of the Macguffin, but of course she will not recognize it for what it is. The Korean mob and the crooked cops they have bought and paid for are determined to make her disappear, but they did not anticipate Gon going rogue. However, he will have to be a bit cagey when Mo-gyeong asks just who is he and what is it all to him?

There is just no getting around the depressing nature of the first half of Tears. Nevertheless, the mayhem gets pretty spectacular when the bullets start flying.  Although the climax is highly reminiscent of the original Die Hard, the shootouts and beatdowns are staged with admirable bravado. Brian Tee (recognizable from The Wolverine and Tokyo Drift) also makes quite a charismatic villain, calling out Gon as his sworn brother Chaoz.

Superstar Jang Dong-gun seethes and broods like mad, while showing off first class action chops. Kim Min-hee is frighteningly credible portraying Mo-gyeong on the way down, but she does not sell her rage-to-live nearly as convincingly. It is also worth noting the little girl playing the little girl is so expressive, it is like a knife to the gut.

Frankly, the first half is downright morose and angsty, but the second half delivers with all guns blazing (literally). Fans of Lee’s breakout hit The Man from Nowhere will be happy to see him further refining his formula mixing dark, emotionally resonant drama and adrenaline-charged, up-close-and-personal melee. Recommended for genre fans with a taste for the existential, No Tears for the Dead opens this Friday (6/20) in New York at the AMC Empire.

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