A disciple asked his master, "Do the leaves flow or is it the wind?" His master replied, "No, it is the heart and the mind."
The Bittersweet Life is a Korean action movie, although that label doesn't really fit right. The movie starts and ends with a Buddhist parable and that should tell you something about it. The story unfolds slowly and it's almost a meditation on honour, loyalty and morale. But one with gunfights, martial arts and lots of violence. The choreography of the fight scenes is brilliant, not polished Matrix-style, but a total chaos that probably needed a lot of rehearsing. The music is gorgeous, too, and adds a lot to the movie's melancholic mood.
You can do a hundred things right, but it takes only one mistake to destroy everything. - this quote by the main character's boss perfectly sums up the story.
Here's a scene that nicely shows how the movie switches from slow scenes to violence:
I love how he throws the car keys away... There's quite a lot of humour in The Bittersweet Life, but it's very, very dark. For me, it does everything just right and it's one of my favourite movies ever.
One late autumn night, the disciple awoke crying. So the master asked the disciple, "Did you have a nightmare?" "No." "Did you have a sad dream?" "No," said the disciple. "I had a sweet dream." "Then why are you crying so sadly?" The disciple wiped his tears away and quietly answered, "Because the dream I had can't come true."