International K-Drama fans have become familiar with Jang Dong Gun after his iconic performance Kim Do Jin in “A Gentleman’s Dignity”.
However, Jang Dong Gun has had a long running career which began with his television debut in 1992. Since his debut, he has starred in over seventeen films and twelve dramas.
Jang Dong Gun sheds his wholesome image to appear as Gon, a conflicted assassin with mommy issues.
Gon is the product of an abusive mother who abandoned him in the desert, after succumbing to her inner demons. Born in Korea, Gon is brought to the United States by his mother, who repeatedly admonishes him for holding on to his native culture.
The otherness of the American landscape becomes a crucial part of his development into a coldblooded killer.
Gon becomes morally conflicted after accidentally murdering an innocent child in the midst of an assassination job. His strength is then tested even further when he is given the assignment of killing the mother of the dead child.
Kim Min Hee portrays Mogyeong, a hedge fund manager who is on the edge of destruction following the murder of her husband and daughter in the United States.
Mogyeong struggles to hold on to her sanity as she attempts to piece together the horrific events which led to the untimely death of her daughter. Her limits are also tested by her mother who lies in a state of confusion due to the onset of dementia.
Brian Tee rounds out the main cast as Chaoz, a suave career criminal whose deplorable personality elevates Gon to likability.
“No Tears for the Dead” is directed by critically acclaimed director Lee Jeong Beom, whose is best known for the hyper violent thriller “Man From Nowhere”.
“No Tears for the Dead” opens within the eery landscape of an American jazz bar.
Korean pop vocalist Lee Michelle provides the track for “Smooth Operator” which sets a series of tragic events into motion. Gon creates a paper crane for a nearby child while appearing to listen to the music, even though he is mentally preparing for a take down.
The scene in which Gon inadvertently murders the child is visually arresting. Lee Jeong Beom frames the scene in such an alarming way that viewers are immediately conflicted about Gon.
From the start of “No Tears for the Dead” it becomes apparent that Gon is not a heroic figure that can be easily cheered on.
Mogyeong is as much of antihero as Gon. On the surface, she is a mother who allowed her only child to venue thousands of miles away with her criminally reckless husband.
As the film progresses, viewers develop more compassion for Mogyeong, who is a victim of her own circumstances.
“No Tears for the Dead” brilliantly pits corporate wonk Mogyeong against the seemingly amoral Gon.
Lee Jeong Beom repeatedly utilizes the juxtaposition of a barren American desert landscape verses the urbanization of Korea.
“No Tears for the Dead” is consistent with Korean film noir in that there is no clear cut sense of justice. While it may not be a feel good film, “No Tears for the Dead” challenges audiences and presents Jang Dong Gun in one of his best roles to date.
“No Tears for the Dead” is not rated, but parental guidance should be used for younger audiences due to violence and profanity.
“No Tears for the Dead” will open in select U.S. theaters on June 20.
Run Time:116 minutes