A half-century after MLK's death is Baltimore less segregated? Yes and no.

'No Tears for the Dead' sheds blood at story's expense

In "No Tears for the Dead," so much blood is shed — by so many — over one little flash drive that you'd think world dominance was at stake instead of a load of ill-gotten cash. But that's the way this hectic Korean crime drama rolls in the hands of writer-director Lee Jung-beom.

The film's many violent action scenes are quite well, er, executed. But there's a far more emotional and profound story here to be told, one that becomes largely eclipsed by the mayhem.

At the epicenter of it all is Gon (Jang Dong-gun), a Korean-born, American-raised hit man who accidentally kills a little girl while taking out some bad guys in Los Angeles. He's then sent to Seoul to murder the child's grieving mother, Mogyeong (Kim Min-hee), a risk manager at a large financial concern. Meanwhile, all that the ethically conflicted Gon really wants to do is retire. No such luck.

Once back in South Korea, Gon lands in the web of a deadly conspiracy as a jumble of factions vie for the elusive flash drive that holds the key to a fortune connected to the Triad organized crime group. As the ante rises on Mogyeong, the guilt-ridden Gon realizes that he can't murder her. In fact, he must spare her — at his own peril.

Although Gon is a potentially memorable tragic character, his depth and dimensionality take a hit amid the film's second-half jam of carnage and double-crosses.

Jung-beom's attempt to deepen Gon via flashbacks to his fraught childhood never creates the kind of rich foundation that's clearly intended. Only an unpredictable, late-breaking twist shows some real storytelling chops.


"No Tears for the Dead"

MPAA rating; None. In English and Korean with English subtitles.

Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes.

Playing: At CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles; Regal's La Habra Stadium 16.

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