Plot: Sang-hoon is a thug who spends his days beating up and threaten weaker folks for money. Having grown up with a violent father who was responsible for the deaths of his mother and sister, Sang-hoon now directs his own seemingly limitless store of violence toward enemies and subordinates alike. He is constantly in the grip of bitterness and near uncontrollable rage, which he takes out on almost everyone he comes across. However he is not quite all bad, regularly giving money to his stepsister who living from hand to mouth and trying to be a father to his young nephew.
One day, Sang-hoon meets a schoolgirl Yon-hee. She pretends to be from a good family in front of him, however is regularly victimized by her mentally ill father (contused Vietnam veteran) and thuggish brother.
Unknowing of each other's situation, they both have to come to grips with a past and present of unrelenting domestic violence.
The original Korean title for 'Breathless' is 'Ddongpari', meaning 'dung fly', a Korean nickname for the sort of person you brush off, not wanting them to get close to you.
Yang Ik June wrote, directed, produced and starred in the lead role.
Through its South Korean box office run, 'Breathless' sold a total of 122,976 tickets (an unusually high figure for an independant film).
In 2009 the film has entered almost 20 international film events and picked up various top prizes, including, VPRO Tiger Awards at 38th International Film Festival Rotterdam, Grand Prix and International Critics’ Award at 11th Deauville Asian Film Festival, Best Debut Feature at 8th New York Asian Film Festival, Best Feature Film Performance at 13th Fantasia Film Festival, Best New Actress at 46th Daejong Film Awards, Grand Prize at 10th TOKYO FILMeX, SIGNIS Prize and the Audience Award at the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival.
Yang has said that he made this film as a form of therapy, to deal with the rage he has often felt in his life.
«Breathless is gritty, violent and devoid of any romanticism associated with the usual lowlife gangster film genre. It’s an examination on the cyclical nature of violence. The look of the film captures the reality of the underprivileged class in Korea. Everything feels very authentic down to smallest details (cheap Chinese food, outdoor snack vendors, drinking in public, gameboy envy, etc). ... If you can stomach the violence, Breathless is a very rewarding film.»
«Yang is incredibly brave to have made such a dark, unflinchingly personal film in “Breathless”, and it is to his further credit that it transcends mere catharsis or confession and becomes something engaging and deeply moving.»
«"Breathless" is a thoroughly remarkable movie, even before considering that Yang Ik-joon has more or less come out of nowhere to make it. ... He has captured it once, though, and it's definitely a must-see for fans of high-quality independent film.»
«Writer, director and star Yang Ik-june has created a nervy, brutal, yet tender and heartfelt film that crackles with invention, humor, restless – and yes, breathless, energy. ... Much like the Godard classic that the English title of this film evokes, “Breathless” heralds the debut of a fully-formed major talent that shows the promise of greater things to come.»
«Although Yang's directorial debut is overlong and unnecessarily laboured in the early section, he is genuinely bringing something fresh to the table in terms of the atmosphere he creates - stripping away the gloss associated with the likes of Kim Jee-woon - in favour of something more akin to the naturalism of Ken Loach. »
«Yang Ik-joon's direction of his cast is close to perfect, and the lines jump straight out of real life. The plot could be more creative, but it is logical enough. The style goes well with the story, the pace is appropriate, and the music is well-designed. In other words, for all his talk about not knowing what he's doing, Yang has turned out a better-made film than most films being churned out in the Korean movie scene today.»
«plotting is clumsy and this, coupled with its length, make Breathless a flawed if interesting work. The language is repetitively foul, and international viewers will come away with at least a couple of words not to be used in polite Korean society.»
«All of the actors do a fine job, but Kim stands out in addition to Yang. This is apparently her debut and she absolutely nails the sarcastic teenager with a hidden pain. Her and Yang’s performances made these characters real enough for me to care about and powerful enough to cry over.»
Share your thoughts and opinions
Like this film? Planning to watch it or have done already? Want to share your feedback or just give a thumbs up? Found links to intresting reviews, posters or trailers? Your participation is appreciated.