It’s often the most violent films from South East Asia that make it to international cinemas and that’s true of Yang Ik-joon’s Breathless. Whereas the films of Park Chan-wook, John Woo and to a lesser extent Takeshi Kitano are often so extreme that the violence becomes cartoonish, Yang’s film is so realistic it sometimes feels more like a British kitchen sink drama.
The man the hand-held camera is focusing on is thug-for-hire Sang-Hoon (Yang Ik-June), he’d hit you for looking at him or for sharing the same blood group as him. The movie starts with a montage of beatings before settling into a love story of sorts as Yang meets a feisty high school student (Kim Go-Bi) with an equally high zest for violence. But alas, instead of going all Bonnie and Clyde, Yang concentrates on Sang-Hoon’s family troubles, his hatred of his father and his relationship with his son. As such the adrenalin that filled the early moments is lost to a clichéd conclusions about the cyclical nature of violence.
Selected release from Fri 29 Jan.