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February 17, 2015

No Tears for the Dead

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Uneun Namja
Lee Jeong-Beom - 2014
CJ Entertainment Region 1 DVD

The original title translates as "Crying Man". The English title does convey the attitude of some of the characters, and how the allowance of human emotion gets in the way, especially if your occupation is that of professional killer.

The killer is a guy named Gon, who accidentally kills a four year old girl at the time that he kills her father in the back room of a Los Angeles nightclub. Working on behalf of a pan-Asian syndicate, Gon is sent to Korea to kill the mother as she has some incriminating evidence. The girl's mother, Mogyeong, is introduced, working in a brokerage where she has successful made a deal involving a drug manufacturer. When someone points out that eighty people will be unemployed, Mogyeong's response is that the goal is to make money, not be sentimental. Although Lee Jeong-Beom shows that Mogyeong has channeled her grief into her work, he could have gone a bit deeper in creating parallels between the mercenary who kills people and the mercenary who kills companies, both for profit. Making money the impetus for most of the characters here. The essential message might be one regarding the corrupting influence of big money, but Lee also is concerned with a bit of superficial psychology regarding Gon, and how his childhood influenced his present day actions.

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Lee's previous film was The Man from Nowhere. There are a few fleeting similarities, especially with the main character being a rogue hit man. Working with a much larger budget, there is a flashback that takes place in the desert area of California, as well as more elaborate set pieces including a room full of computer equipment and large monitors, and a mob hit done with one very large truck.

One of the more visually striking scenes involves Gon in a fist fight with a rival killer. The room is illuminated by sunlight filtered through the slates of a window shade. The alternating light and shadow against the two men, seen mostly in close up, gives the scene an abstract quality. Nothing else in No Tears for the Dead comes close in visual panache.

The DVD comes with a "Making of" supplement which is of some interest in showing the mechanics of how how certain scenes were set up. What is billed as a "Director's Commentary" is not an alternate soundtrack, but simply a few minutes of Lee discussing what he was aiming for in making this film. Lee explains why he chose the well known song, "Danny Boy", performed by the Mogyeong and her daughter in separate scenes. Not explained is the choice of old pop hit, "Smooth Operator", performed by the nightclub singer in the opening scene. There's no specific reference to any character with this song, but I suspect the choice was due to the title, and the criminals' false sense of invulnerability.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at February 17, 2015 06:58 AM