Film info

Director: Yang Ik-june
Cast: Yang Ik-june, Kim Kkobbi and Lee Hwan
Cert 18, 130 mins, 2008

One of the most startling and uncompromising debut features of this century, Breathless follows Sang-hoon (Yang Ik-june), a foul mouthed and belligerent loan shark who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a school girl, Yeon-hee (Kim Kkot-bi). Raging at anyone that gets in reach of his fists, Sang-hoon’s actions are often unforgivable, but are rooted in, though not excused by, a traumatic upbringing. With a deeply troubled home life of her own Yeon-hee is undaunted by his ferocity, and after standing up to his vile temper the two begin to connect.

Directed, written and starring Yang Ik-june, it was a multi-award winner on the festival circuit and catapulted his talent into the spotlight with a character that seems so unrecognisable now to the tubby and sensitive poet he played in this year’s The Poet and the Boy (also playing in the ‘Special Focus’ strand). A decade has passed since it first played at the London Korean Film Festival, and with enough grim realism in two hours to rival a whole Shane Meadows box set, Breathless still has audiences gasping.