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One of the finest gay films to ever emerge from Asia, No Regret tells the story of a wealthy man who falls obsessively in love and lust with a poor artist who resorts to prostitution to support himself. No Regret is hauntingly erotic and splendidly lyrical.
Hauntingly erotic and splendidly lyrical, this new movie from South Korea is the leading film in a gorgeous wave of queer film to emerge from this previously repressive Asian country. Reportedly made for under $100,000, No Regret is made rich with its moving story of gay love and filmic expertise seldom seen in low budget cinema. Sumin (Young Hoon-Lee) is an orphan with ambitions. He works two jobs in order to study at art school and pay his bills. His night job is limo driver, day job at a factory. One night he picks up Jaemin (Han Lee), a young, very handsome drunken businessman at a bar and brings the man home. Jaemin, propositions the young driver who rebuffs his advances and simply tries to get the man home safely for the night. The next day at work Jaemin is part of a tour at Sumin’s factory and he spots the young man immediately. Unbeknownst to Sumin, Jaemin is the boss’s son and there is to a round of layoffs – Sumin is set to lose his position. Jaemin intervenes to save his new friend’s job, but Jaemin refuses the assistance. He’s poor but proud, not about to accept the favors of a wealthy man – favors that may have strings attached. Instead, out of desperation, Sumin takes a job at a high end hustler bar prostituting himself. Jaemin tracks Sumin to his new job and becomes obsessed with the young man. He pays for sex with Sumin and follows him around like a sick puppy dog.
With its heavy doses of gay eroticism and matter-of-fact treatment of homo themes, No Regret is a true breakthrough in Korean cinema. Not a walk in the park, this stunning Korean masterwork is sure to become a lasting classic. (Korean with English subtitles)
-- Scott Cranin
JANORM wrote on 10/12/2009:
This is a film of love, true love, that has no limits nor boundries. If you have never lived in an Asian Community and personally experience their cultture, you will have a difficult time viewing and yet understanding this film. This was a very emotional experience for myself, for I have seen this occur in real life! The cultural clash of these two(2) men, bound by an emotional love with no limits, personifies what exsists, even in today's modern world! It is a drama that can be lifted from any organized society. It is a moral lesson, yea, moral imperative, that the world needs to understand and accept, "Two(2) men can fall deeply in love with each other!" The struggles of these two(2) men are very poignant and yet very Deja Vue for myself. If watched/viewed in the context of 'love's emotion' then the audience will sense it true meaning. This is a classic for the Romantic Gay Asian Culture and should be added to your collection. LOVE, TRUE LOVE HAS MANY AVENUES, BUT ONLY ONE FINAL DESTINATION! NJMJr!
Amos Lassen wrote on 12/26/2008:
"No Regret", a romantic drama about two Korean gay men that interweaves the beauty of love with the harsh politics of distinctions between classes.
Sumin at 18 years old is no longer eligible to stay at the orphanage where he has been raised. He is on the street with only a backpack and money to buy a train ticket. He is an industrious teen and he heads to Seoul where he gets a job in a factory, attends night school and sets about building a life. He rents a small apartment with a friend from the orphanage. He feels that his roommate is attracted to him but he suffers from the insults that he throws at him. Like other men who are deeply in the closet, this is first encounter with the attraction/revulsion syndrome.
Things are not easy for Sumin financially and he takes an additional job at a limousine agency that caters to the late night party people. One of his first clients is Jaemin, a wealthy and successful yuppie who is in the process of using alcohol to drown his troubles. On the first outing Jaemin claims he has forgotten his wallet and asks Sumin to come upstairs to be paid. After sharing a nightcap, Jaemin makes a pass at Sumin which is rejected but Sumin smiles to himself as he leaves.
Sumin learns that Jaemin's father is the CEO at the company where he works and where downsizing is going on. Jaemin saves Sumin's job and when the others tease Sumin he quits, takes another job and gets fired because of his poor attitude. Sumin is broke and takes a job as a sex worker at a gay bar. Sumin tries to save money for college but spends foolishly. When Jaemin comes to the bar and requests Sumin he is rejected again and again and after a bitter scene one evening Sumin takes Jaemin home and succumbs to him and his own desires. All is fine until Jaemin's fiancée catches them and Jaemin realizes that he must conform to class expectations and marry. Schemes follow and one plan almost ends in tragedy as possessive obsession overtakes one of the men but in the end all is worked out. To tell anymore would ruin the viewing for you.
What is interesting about "No Regret" is that it was made before other films dealing with gay life in Korea came to the fore. It is an unconventional film by Korean standards but it is an important film in the tradition of others who have made melodramatic films. It is a contemporary look at Korean gay life as well as a realistic depiction of class conflict and romance. It is powerful and emotional with excellent direction and beautiful performances. The characters are honest and real and the plot is well developed.
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