BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Cj Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
It’s a Guy Ritchie movie…in Korea!
Jeon Do-yeon, Lee Hye-young Jung Jae-young and Goo Shin
Two women have been dealt shitty hands in life: One is being harassed by bookies about the money her husband owes, the other is the battered girlfriend of a low level mobster. They find each other and hatch a plot to rob a dog fighting game, but as is so often the case in movies, things never go as they’re planned!
If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s this: spin kicks need no translation.
No Blood No Tears is an odd beast. It’s one part crime caper, one part domestic drama, several parts kung fu movie, its tone is both gritty and absurd at times and yet, it still comes out feeling like a fully realized film.
In RockNRolla, Guy Ritchie was trying to do himself, and failing. It was slow, plodding and exceedingly dull. Here, director Ryu Seung-wan outdoes the maestro himself, creating a glorious crime film with lots of colorful characters and fun twists and turns along the way. The film is, technically, about two women, Soo-jin and Kyeong-seun, but it is more often about the other characters who are allowed to have a far better time on screen. In fact, we often forget that these two women are the stars because the other people, whether it’s the oddly quirky mob boss known as KGB, or the trio of waiters plotting their revenge, are one upping our heroines and keep the film manic and fun for everyone.
What elevates this above other Ritchie/Tarantino wannabes is the crisp dialogue. Now, could some of the meaning been lost in translation? Sure. But I have to believe that the Asiaphiles who only watch unsubbed Korean films and subtitle them themselves would have said something about it by now. The dialogue is never deep or meaningful, it’s never supposed to be, it’s witty when it’s supposed to be, menacing when it needs and a joy to read. The film’s structure is full of doubletakes, do-overs and ‘how it really happened’, as well as some short ‘here’s how the plan will go down’ from several different points of view that helps keep No Blood No Tears from becoming dull and predictable. Given the large ensemble, some of the secondary characters are left in one-dimension land, like the slimy husband who magically appears during a firefight, but it balances both character and story quite well. It’s also smart enough to keep you guessing who has the money all the way until the end, along with a few surprises.
The acting is solid overall. Everyone knows exactly what their role calls for, whether it’s comic timing or to be the strong, silent, kung fu master. Do-yeon and Hye-young are terrific complements to one another, one the hothead, the other the down to earth, kick your ass type. Goo Shin, portraying KGB, is having a blast. He gets to sit there, eat some food, smile and have someone else do all of his dirty work. What’s not to love in that, or in a cast this great?
At first, the movie never feels like anyone should be doing kung fu. So when the fists start flying, it’s initially kind of shocking because, wait…I thought this was a crime movie? Well, it’s both. The choreography is tight, everyone’s had experience and it shows. These fight scenes are brutal, relentless and very, very well done. Everything at the actor’s disposal is used, from chairs to chains. Some fight scenes go on for too long, which begin to drag the film down and some of the outright savagery present can wear on people because it’s excessive for the sake of excessive. But hey, what can you expect from the guy who directed a movie called ‘City of Violence’?
It’s fast paced, chaotic and a lot of fun. Fans of action cinema, crime/noir and that Tarantino-esque dialogue and film plotting should have no problem slipping in No Blood No Tears every once in a while and reveling in the madness that is happening on-screen.
The technical side of the film is quite good. The visuals are solid, the sound just the way it should be and in glorious 5.1, as well. I’m unsure if anything was lost in translation, but there were a few minor grammatical errors in the subtitles, but nothing that will distract from your enjoyment. Sadly, there are no special features to be had on the disc, while unsurprising given its “foreign-ness”, it’s sad because it looks like a lot of love went into making this and it would be nice to see the creative process, especially in the choreography.
6.0 out of 10