Known for his smooth good looks, Jang Dong-gun is going for a new image in the upcoming action film "No Tears for the Dead" as a professional killer. / Courtesy of CJ E&M
After string of disastrous films, heartthrob Jang Dong-gun is back
"No Tears for the Dead" stars Jang Dong-gun and Kim Min-hee.
By Baek Byung-yeul
After two years away, Jang Dong-gun is back as a professional hit man in the new action movie, "No Tears for the Dead."
Since his TV debut with the 1990 MBC drama "Our Paradise," the 42-year-old has been a respected actor for more than two decades. But it has been a long time since he made a compelling mark on the big screen.
His biggest film success was 10 years ago, with the 2004 "TaeGukGi: Brotherhood of War," which drew a domestic audience of more than 11.7 million to this tragic tale of two brothers during the Korean War (1950-1953). Since then, he has suffered a bad streak with "Typhoon" (2005), "The Warrior's Way" (2010), "My Way" (2011) and "Dangerous Liaisons" (2012), all of which were box office disasters.
Jang expressed eagerness to make his next movie a hit during a press conference last Friday. "Some of the films I turned down became huge successes. There must be an uncontrollable force to make a hit film," Jang said.
To prove that he is still capable of being a bankable A-list star, he teamed up with director Lee Jeong-beom, best known for his previous action flick, "The Man from Nowhere."
The 2010 action film, which was the his second directional film, followed by 2006 debut film, "Cruel Winter Blues," become a sensational hit — it garnered more than 6.1 millions, the highest box-office record in that year, and helped lift Won Bin, who took the leading role of former special agent, to the very top of Korean cinema.
In Lee's upcoming film, Jang is a Korean-born American killer Gon, a tragic figure who repents for killing a young girl by mistake and is later assigned to remove her mother in Korea as well.
Jang trained at an film action school in Seoul for four months to step into the role of a killer.
Playing a bilingual role was new territory for him. "I had to act most parts of my scenes in English, (as I am a non-native English speaker) and I just tried to concentrate on delivering my lines as best as I could," he added.
While Jang depicts the conflicted hit man Gon well, his co-star Kim Min-hee is also brilliant as the female lead Mo-kyung.
"It definitely can be categorized as an action film. But I wanted to visualize a killer who experiences inner conflict," the director told reporters at a premiere with the press on Friday.
To put some distance from his successful previous work, "The Man from Nowhere," the director said he paid special attention in strengthening narrative structure. "I cannot deny that I can be here without huge success of ‘The Man.' But, I am certain that ‘No Tears' has its distinction from existing Korean action-noirs including my own," Lee added.
The director interviewed special force troops in Korea and the U.S. to learn their reality and incorporate it into his work.
"No Tears for the Dead" will be on screens nationwide from Wednesday. Rated 18 and over. Runs 116 minutes. In Korean.