contains spoilers if text is not in bold, for more info check my intro, otherwise
BILL HICKS & A BITTERSWEET LIFE
There is no film by Kim Ji-woon that is representative of the director. They are all beautiful and different. There is no single act that will tell you who Bill Hicks really was. And that’s okay.
Some people just like to fight. Sun-woo, played by Lee Byung-hun, is supposed to fight and keep order. Mostly he’s supposed to obey.
Bill Hicks fights everyone, rebels with animated conspiracy. He fights his audience. It’s not going to be entertaining for everyone, but Bill is a cult icon. Being in a Tool song helps. Being dead helps even more. His act from the 90’s still translated into the year 2000. Another Bush in office, another war with Iraq. It’s more amazing than Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz played together.
Sun-woo comes back from the dead. He’s been buried alive just to find the gangsters who smashed his hand and buried him are still there, waiting. In a Hollywood movie you know everything is going to be okay. Our hero will win. This was something else, a frightening hands-to-face situation. There is an exhilarating effect when Sun-woo escapes. Grinding one of his enemy’s faces against the wall, fighting fire sticks with fire sticks. It was nearly impossible and yet, he drives away.
Reading Kevin Booth’s Agent of Evolution, about his friend Bill Hicks, is something I recommend, but it’s going to rewrite your brain. Things you know from his act, you find are just an illusion. It’s Bill as he wished to be. Bill was someone else on stage. He could have a conversation and thirty minutes later it could be in his act. And he meant it.
Sun-woo and Hee-soo (Shin Mina) meet. This is before all of the violence. His boss seems to prize Sun-woo over others. He wants Sun-woo to watch over Hee-soo, his new, and very young girlfriend. It seems that something isn’t right. It doesn’t take long for the hit man to find her in the arms of another man. He’s supposed to kill them both, but has them both separate forever.
Though he was part of Outlaws of Comedy, Bill surpassed Sam Kennison by 666 light years. Why scream so empty? Bill wanted to fix the world while Kennison barely understood it. Kennison screamed about starving third world people, GO TO WHERE THE FOOD IS! Bill wanted all the money to be spent helping the people. He wanted wars to end. He was John Lennon as a comic with major leans toward conspiracy (Waco, JFK, The Bible).
Re-titled The Bittersweet Life, the original title is the Sweet Life, just like La Dolce Vita the bar where Sun-woo works. This is one of the few alternate titles that worked really well. The irony isn’t important here. Nothing is fine. Did Sun-woo have it all? You watch him so bored, alone in his small place. Sleeping on a couch. Playing with a light.
I’m actually at a loss. There is a scene with Sun-woo where he watches Hee-soo play the violin. He’s somewhere else. We’re not in your average movie about a hit man. I find both Bill Hicks and A Bittersweet Life beautiful. I want to watch A Bittersweet Life while I build a time machine and go back to see Bill Hicks. I just wasn’t old enough. I only saw his censored televised act right before he died. Cancer put his thoughts towards God (they weren’t friends in the act) at the end. I really can’t shake a fist considering his age. He didn‘t make it to his 33rd birthday. I just want to go in my time machine and see him, right before he was to weak, to watch some films. I’ll have a Blu-ray player under one arm and Avatar in the other. He said that no one was ever going to top Terminator 2. I’d bring Terminator 3 and 4 (5 has Byung-hun!), but he’d probably just say he was right and go to sleep.
The fighting could stop at any time. Sun-woo and his boss just won’t give up. It doesn’t end well, revenge and hate. Some say it’s all just a dream in the movie. Bill said it was just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.
Tell me that kind of thought comes from an average comedian.