No Blood No Tears (Pido nunmuldo eobshi) is co-written and directed by Seung-wan Ryoo. The same director who brought us the brilliant films Arahan and Crying Fist. Ryoo has directed ten films so far and judging from his work on the three films I’ve mentioned, I am desperate to see more of his films.
The plot of No Blood No Tears revolves around two female characters. Su-ji played by Do-yeon Jeon who is a “wanna be” popstar whose boyfriend is a homicidal monster and Kyeong-seon played by Hye-yeong Lee is the reluctant, “hard as nails” female gangster whose dead husband’s gambling debts have forced her to take on ‘real’ work as a cab driver. Kyeong-seon is also trying to go straight, when she was younger she was a safe-cracker and has no wish to go back to prison. The two females literally bump into each other at the beginning of the film with Su-ji driving straight into the side of Kyeong-seon’s cab. The two women have nothing in common and due to the strained circumstances of their meeting, don’t look like they will bond at all. But fate is a funny thing and it turns out that they both need money. Lots of money.
Su-ji needs the cash to get away from her cruel boyfriend and to get the plastic surgery she needs to pursue her career. Kyeong-seon needs the money to pay off the loan shark her dead husband owes money to. Since neither woman can achieve what they need alone, Su-ji suggests they team up to steal what they need from her boyfriends club.
Su-ji’s ‘terminator’ style boyfriend’s club specializes in illegal dog-fights. The club is making money hand over fist. The two girls work on a plan that will allow them to enter the club unnoticed, switch the duffle bag that is used to transport the nights takings to the mob with a bag filled with newspaper. The plan looks like a ‘shoe-in’ except for one problem the two girls are not the only folks who have decided to help themselves to some of the clubs money. Two other groups have also picked the same night as Su-ji and Kyeong-seon.
This film is a very above average heist film. The pacing is taut and the action is ferocious. The film also has it’s fair share of funny moments as well. The director has used his “regular”- Seung-beom Ryu – Arahan and Crying Fist, again for his first class comic acting that we’ve seen in Arahan. Goo Shin plays KGB, the scary, cruel, and seemingly indestructible boyfriend of Ju-ji.
The divergent groups clash, intertwine and double cross each other. It can get a little confusing if you haven’t been paying attention. During the middle of the film it becomes a case of ‘Bag, Bag, who’s got the Bag?’ With the amount of times that the cash filled duffle bag changes hands, you can get lost in the shuffle. There is a lot of brilliant wire work, and the fights scenes have been choreographed brilliantly. The cinematography is spot-on, with a sharp ‘drabness’ that shows what kind of world these people inhabit.
I enjoyed this film very much, so much so, that after I’d finished watching it I immediately started looking to see if there had been a sequel. Everyone in the film gave an outstanding performance. If you want to see what films like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Smoking Barrel could have been, watch this film. Don’t get me wrong, I adore LSSB…a lot. But After watching this film I realized it could have been even better.