|Ddongpari 2009 South Korea Breathless|
Breathless tells the story of the cycle of violence: that kids who grow up watching their fathers beat the crap out of their mothers grow up to beat the crap out of people too. Then somebody comes along and beats the crap out of them. In the first fifteen minutes of this film the main character spits on two women and hits them in the face. The second of the two women is a high school girl and she gets hit hard enough it knocks her unconscious. She wakes up and responds to the beating like some sort of pick-up line because, guess what? She's also grown up watching her father beat the crap out of her mother. So the two of them form a friendship.
The high school girl has a brother who, since he's also grown up watching his father beat the crap out of his mother, has to do some ass-kicking himself. He picks on his sister a bit and ultimately takes a job that leads to his kicking the ass of the main ass-kicker. Is it really going to spoil it to say that this ass-kicking of the ass-kicker is fatal? I mean, can't you see that coming a mile away?
In the end, the cycle continues. Yes, we all know this story, but we know the stories ahead of time of many of the movies we love. The trick is to create characters we care about and tell the story in some imaginative way. This film doesn't do that.
Summary: Breathless marks the impressive directorial debut of Yang Ik-jun, who also served as the film’s screenwriter, producer, and star. Song-hoon is a foul-mouthed extortionist and enforcer for local gangster Man-shik. Having grown up with a violent father who was responsible for the deaths of his mother and sister, Song-hoon now directs his own seemingly limitless store of violence toward enemies and subordinates alike. Things begin to change when he meets a similarly foulmouthed schoolgirl, Han Yeon-heui. Regularly victimized by her mentally ill father and thuggish brother, she’s not scared by Song-hoon's hard exterior. Slowly but surely, an unlikely bond develops between the two. But when Yeon-heui's brother joins Man-shik’s gang without his sister’s knowledge, it becomes clear that the crushing brutality of their environment may not allow the fragile emotional connection between them to survive. This often-brutal look at cyclical violence and how love might just redeem a lost soul is a semi-autobiographical story inspired by the director’s family and friends.