Friday, February 27, 2015

Film Review: No Tears For The Dead (2014)

No Tears For The Dead (Review)
Lee Jeong-beom/Jang Dong-gun/2014
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a very stylish and exhilarating action film."

After accidentally killing a young girl during a mission, mafia hitman Gon (Jang Dong-gun) wants out. However, his boss demands one more job: the girl's mother, Mo-gyeong (Kim Min-hee)...

No Tears For The Dead begins with a convenient accident in the US. Gon struggles with his mistake, but is forced to visit Korea and assassinate the girl's mother, Mo-gyeong. Mo-gyeong works as a successful risk manager at an investment firm in Korea. She's unknowingly part of a large conspiracy. As one would expect, Gon struggles to kill Mo-gyeong despite his many opportunities. Instead, he opts to save her, to act as a guardian angel, as police crack down on the conspiracy and as other assassins close in on her. It all leads to a bloody, action-packed climax and a moderately satisfying ending.

 First and foremost, No Tears For The Dead is a very stylish and exhilarating action film. The film oozes with style from its noir approach and vibrant lighting/colors. The action sticks to blazing shootouts, some slick close-quarter-combat, and some knife play. Most of the action is towards the second half of the film, especially during the ending, but it offers more than enough action to satisfy immensely. The knife sequence in The Man From Nowhere was superior and The Raid 2 is easily the better martial arts film, but I thoroughly enjoyed the action in this film. I don't have a single complaint for the action.

No, my issue comes from the cliché and contrived story. Some of the plot contrivances were ridiculous. The introduction was forgivable, but there's a scene towards the end that made me scoff. I won't completely spoil it, but it involves a man dropping a knife right next to his victim for no apparent reason. There are scenes like this scattered throughout, some more absurd than others. Fortunately, many are forgivable. It stops the film from being perfect, but some are forgivable. There wasn't a lot of character, either. I mean, we can see the struggle in the characters, but it didn't resonate. I felt some emotion, especially towards the end, but not nearly as much as the director's debut. I didn't hate the story by any means, believe me, but it felt underwhelming.

The acting was odd - for lack of a better term - particularly due to the decision to have most of the cast focus on English. This creates some unnatural delivery, which wasn't that bad, and some cheesy dialogue. It also caused the cast to deliver with far less conviction than what you'd usually expect from a Korean film. Jang Dong-gun and Kim Min-hee convey great emotion, though. The cinematography is great, the film is beautiful. The camerawork is also great, helped create engaging action. On that point, he action choreography was fantastic. The close-quarter-combat was brutal and engaging. Writer and director Lee Jeong-beom can craft fantastic action set pieces, and he pulls a lot of energy from his diverse cast. However, I felt his writing skimped on some vital story elements, and unfortunately opted for a more cliché and contrived approach -- the "good enough" approach.

Overall, No Tears For The Dead is a very good action movie. If you're looking for blazing shootouts, violent fistfights, and trembling explosions, this will not disappoint. Some of these action sequences really surprised me. If you're looking for an emotionally resonating story, you may leave disappointed. Ultimately, I finished the film with my blood pumping from the adrenaline and some emotional thoughts -- take that as you will.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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