The Merciless: Byun Sung-hyun turns to action films

Film still of Bulhandang (The Merciless) © RR

With his third feature film, Byun Sung-hyun tries his hand at a new exercise. Whatcha’ wearin’? (2012) told the story of a romantic misunderstanding which ended in phone sex, but this time, the Korean director turns to action films with Bulhandang (The Merciless), presented during the Midnight Screenings.

Jae-ho and Hyun-su meet in prison. Both of them are gang leaders, the arrival of one threatens the authority of the other. When they are released, they decide to try and conquer the drug market but neither of them trusts the other.

Despite the fact that the Korean film industry has been successful with action films, Byun Sung-hyun prefers getting inspiration from Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Johnnie To. The director also draws on Hong Kong thrillers and Korean mangas, manhwa. This is how he hopes to create a very personal style, which will be a break with his first two feature films.

“After a romantic comedy, I wanted to turn to a mainly masculine film. I wanted to direct something that would be tense, dry and elegant all at once.”

For The Merciless, the director called on Sul Kyung-gu, a valuable asset of the Korean film industry, who has won several awards and Yim Si-wan, a 28-year-old popstar, singer, star of the small screen and actor. Both of them were very intrigued by the screenplay, and agreed to accompany the director in this original adventure.