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No Tears for the Dead - Movie Poster
Original Title:
U-neun nam-ja

South Korea 2014

Action, Crime, Drama

Lee Jeong-beom

Jang Dong-gun
Kim Min-hee
Brian Tee
Kim Joon-seong
Kim Hee-won
Jeon Bae-soo
Kim Min-jae
Ahn So-ni
Al Rek-san
Rich Ting
Park Byeong-eun

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No Tears for the Dead

Story: Gon (Jang Dong-gun) is Korean, but was raised in America. He makes a living as a professional killer. During his last assignment something went terribly wrong, though, resulting in the death of a little child. His conscience makes every day a living hell for Gon and he wants to quit. However, his employer tells him that he hasn't completed his assignment yet. John Lee (Kim Joon-seong) needs certain documents about the financial transactions of the triads and Gon hasn't delivered them. It turns out that Mo-kyeong (Kim Min-hee), the mother of the killed child, seems to be in possession of the documents and thus needs to be taken out. Gon is sent to Korea, but when he sees Mo-kyeong grieving for her child he can't complete his mission anymore. But since it isn't just some small change the assignment is about John Lee sends Gon's former partner Chaoz (Brian Tee) to see things through and take out Gon, too. Gon on the other hand has made it his business to protect Mo-kyeong. He doesn't know exactly why either, but his conscience doesn't leave him any choice. A bloody battle commences.

Review: Expectations of director Lee Jeong-beom were quite high after his highly praised "The Man From Nowhere". Therefore, it shouldn't surprise that his newest work might try to step into the same footsteps, but can't live up to the audience's high expectations. Many of the film's problems are the direct result of a sloppily written screenplay and the attempt to work some drama into the movie, yet only aiming to do so in a half-baked fashion. At least there is no sob stuff to be found and the action is always standing in the foreground. Accordingly, it is easy to recommend "No Tears for the Dead" to the kind of action fans who are looking for a neat and gritty gangster thriller. The international flair and the nihilistic mood of a Hong Kong flick make for a well working mix after all.

No Tears for the Dead - Film Screenshot 11

The first few minutes of the film manage to excite with a ruthless killer and a fatal mistake that seems to serve as a good premise for the rest of the picture. But the promise the director makes can't be kept. The drama is wafting through the movie in an unmotivated fashion and doesn't fit in. Gon gets a little background story which is told in the shape of some flashbacks, but they don't make the killer at least a bit more vivid, let alone involve us emotionally. Mo-kyeong's loss of her daughter isn't really presented convincingly either. Even Gon's silent suffering because of the guilt he carries seems to be more intensive. But Mo-kyeong is also provided with a subplot around her senile mother. Yet this plot simply isn't developed further.

No Tears for the Dead - Film Screenshot 12

It's even the more severe to neglect the development of the main characters since the screenplay doesn't provide us with anything else. After all, the plot once again revolves around a killer who wants to quit his job, but in order to do so first has to take out his employer and his colleagues. With Jang Dong-gun ("My Way", "The Coast Guard") there is at least no teenager taking on the main role, who looks like his main profession is warbling in a boy group, but a veteran in the field, who actually knows how to give his role the needed amount of charisma when the script doesn't give him anything else to work with. Kim Min-hee ("Helpless", "Moby Dick") can't hold a candle to him and most of the time is simply the damsel in distress until she actually has to defend herself at the end.

While Kim Joon-seong ("Late Autumn") with his perfect English and overacting seems to be aiming at becoming Korea's own Michael Wong, Brian Tee as the antagonist, who at the same time still shares a bond of brotherhood with Gon, delivers a charismatic performance, getting support by additional villains from all over the world. Thus, the movie has obvious international flair as is underlined by the numerous English dialogues. Yet, the individuals remain extremely caricatural most of the time. Along with the plot holes - I won't even tackle the countless times Gon is shot without batting an eyelid - this should be all the negative aspects there are. So let's get to the enjoyable attributes of the action flick.

No Tears for the Dead - Film Screenshot 13

The action is fantastic and versatile. There are a few fist-/knife fights, but most of the time you make a trip down memory line back to the 80s and can watch in awe bloody shootouts, which were, however, polished according to modern standards and stand out with great kinetic energy and choreography. To a great deal the action is also supported by very nicely implemented sound effects and a good soundtrack. Apart from that "No Tears for the Dead" scores with its cool pictures, which have a blueish filter on them in order to make things look grittier. The showdown is grand in scale and with its sets reminds you of "Die Hard", probably deliberately so. Therefore, action fans will be thrilled. However, in cinematic respects the stylish flick lacks a good screenplay, the necessary drama, good character development and a less predictable ending. What a shame.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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