Film Review: No Tears for the Dead

Guilty hit man, angry triad and grieving mother lead to a stylized bloodbath in this Korean import.

Another "hit man with a heart of gold" forms the basis of this derivative thriller from Korean director Lee Jeong-beom (The Man From Nowhere). Action junkies might be drawn to the movie's violence, but for most viewers this will be a tedious repeat of better films. Two lower-budgeted action movies outperformed No Tears for the Dead when it was released in Korea.

The opening copies John Woo's The Killer almost note for note, as conflicted gunman Gon (Jang Dong-gun) blows away a handful of men in the back room of a nightclub. But he also kills a young girl while failing to retrieve important financial data. His angry boss sends Gon to Korea to kill the girl's mother, Choi Mogyeong (Kim Min-Hee).

Choi works in a financial firm that launders triad money, $100 million of which has gone missing. Plus the cops are after Choi because her husband, killed by Gon in the earlier shootout, was dealing with Russian mobsters. Gon's boss has also sent a trio of killers to take care of the hit man and any survivors. Leading the trio: Chaoz (Brian Tee), once Gon's best friend.

In Korea, Gon plants listening devices in Choi's house, follows her to a hospital where her mother is dying of dementia, and sifts through her photos and videos, haunted by the death of her daughter. At times he thinks back to his childhood, when his drug-addict mother abandoned him in the desert before committing suicide.

Awash in cheap sentimentality, No Tears for the Dead lurches from one set-piece to the next with little logic or credibility. Better-trained killers, or at least those not suffering from crippling emotional handicaps, would have handled this situation with a minimum of fuss. Instead, No Tears for the Dead seems intent on referencing as many hit-man movies as it can, giving the two leads more time to mope about inexorable fate and the loss of loved ones.

The last section of the movie restages a scaled-down version of the original Die Hard, as cops futilely surround a skyscraper taken over by crooks while Gon picks off the bad guys one by one.

Although made with care and sporting impressive production values, No Tears for the Dead (released in Korea as The Crying Man) feels counterfeit, from its tired plot to its maudlin characters.

Click here for cast & crew information.