Director and co-writer Ryu Seung-Wan’s 2002 thriller deserves some credit for mixing things up a bit. It attempts to blend Guy Ritchie-style crime-comedy with heavy dramatic elements, the feminist ethos of the Wachowski’s “Bound” (minus the hot actress-on-actress sex), bonecrunching martial arts, and a healthy dose of the semi-mandatory sadism of Korean action films. The only things missing from the exercise are a heart and a point. “No Blood, No Tears” brings us Lee Hye-yeong as a down on her luck cab driver with a criminal past who teams up with a younger woman (Jeon Do-Yeon) trapped in an abusive relationship with her despicable gangster boyfriend (Jung Jae-Young). Their plan is steal a sack full of money during one of her boyfriend’s illegal dogfights and abscond with the loot. The dangerous job turns out to be even trickier than you might think.
Though Seung-Wan tries to goose things along with an endless parade of irritating fancy camera tricks, his film takes an unconscionably long time to get started, the comedy is never funny, while the drama and thriller elements are doomed by paper-thin, almost soap-opera characterization and an overly complicated heist-film plot. On the other hand, some of the hardcore fighting that comes late in the story is impressive, but these fights are so brutal and elongated that they comes across as not much more than nasty mayhem for its sake. Add to that an inexcusable lame non-twist twist ending, and you’ve got one heck of a fancy but kind of revolting piece of non-entertainment.