The Merciless

불한당: 나쁜 놈들의 세상

The Merciless Byun Sung Hyun Photo1
Film info

Director: Byun Sung-hyun
Cast: Sul Kyung-gu, Yim Si-wan
Film genre: Noir
Cert 18, 120 mins, 2017
Distributed by Studiocanal

Opening with a conversation about food followed by sudden, murderous violence, and fracturing its chronology into separate timelines, this latest feature from Byun Sung-hyun owes a certain debt to Quentin Tarantino, but is also a moody neo-noir, all existential musings, rain-swept treachery and savagery just out of shot.

Whether inside prison or out, ruthless gangster Jae-ho (Sul Kyung-gu) and his new young protégé Hyun-su (Yim Si-wan) struggle to trust each other in a world of endless double-dealing and betrayal. "The events that unfold in your life usually come from behind," Jae-ho tells Hyun-su, "never from the front." These words certainly capture something of this character's constant guardedness - but they also slyly help convey the homoerotic subtext of a film that ends up being as much tragic love story as twisty thriller.