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No Tears for the Dead ("Wooneun Namja")

Quebec Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2014
  • 116 mins
  • DCP
  • English / Korean
  • English (subtitles)
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“The kind of sleek, precisely constructed genre work that’s gone missing from American summer movies” - Ben Kenigsberg, NEW YORK TIMES

“Incredibly exciting and visceral” - Rob Hunter, FILM SCHOOL REJECTS

The last film from South Korean director Lee Jeong-beom, THE MAN FROM NOWHERE, changed the blueprint for that country’s action films. Many tried to meet and match what he’d accomplished. Now, four years later, he returns with one of the most anticipated releases of the year, NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD.

Gon (Jang Dong-gun) is a formidable assassin for hire. He executes his missions flawlessly. On the last job, however, he accidentally killed an innocent young girl. Gnawed by remorse, he finds his situation even more twisted when his boss demands that he eliminate the child’s mother. What should have been his final contract has become a quest for redemption. Going against the wishes of his group, he chooses to spare the mother — a decision with serious consequences, because the hit man’s employers won’t abandon their plans for the mother, nor will they forgive the assassin’s act of insubordination. Unfortunately for them, when a man with nothing to lose and a woman with nothing to live for join forces, the results can be explosive.

With NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD, Lee Jeong-beom deploys a formula that has boosted the careers of a number of actors — the killer with a conscience who sides with his intended victims. Think of Luc Besson’s classic THE PROFESSIONAL, or John Woo’s legendary THE KILLER. While the similarities might be there, Lee’s film nonetheless follows its own trajectory. Woo approached the matter in an initially cool and playful way, but not Lee — he finds the horror in the sudden loss of a loved one, the suffering of the survivor and the guilt of the killer. The weight he lays on his characters is substance for his capable actors to use. Jang Dong-gun (THE PROMISE) shows a startling new face with his turn as the implacable assassin, Kim Min-hee (VERY ORDINARY COUPLE) delivers a poignant performance and Brian Tee (THE WOLVERINE) shows the makings a of a rising star. But it’s the furious action scenes, among the very best and most spectacular of recent years, that steal the show. Bullets blaze in epic, brutal gunfights worthy of THE WILD BUNCH. With its emotionally engaging narrative and incredible action sequences, Lee’s film pushes the limits and brings him a step closer to the Korean action-cinema crown.

— Éric S. Boisvert