Screened as part of NZIFF 2017

The Merciless 2017


Directed by Byun Sung-hyun Thrill

An undercover cop and a notorious gangster become blood brothers in Byun Sung-hyun’s big-budget noir-tinged crime thriller, a sleek South Korean cousin to Scorsese’s The Departed.

South Korea In Korean with English subtitles
120 minutes CinemaScope / DCP



Michelle Kwon
Simon Lee


Byun Sung-hyun
Kim Min-soo


Cho Hyoung-rae


Kim Sang-bum
Kim Jae-bum

Production designer

Han Ah-rum

Costume designer

Cho Hee-ran


Kim Hong-jip
Lee Jin-hee


Sul Kyung-gu (Han Jae-ho)
Yim Si-wan (Jo Hyun-su)
Kim Hie-won (Ko Byung-gab)
Jeon Hye-jin (Chief Cheon)


Cannes (Midnight Screenings) 2017

“The Merciless is a superior slice of hardboiled pulp fiction in the blossoming ‘Korean Noir’ style… Set in the coastal city of Busan, The Merciless begins with a wry exchange between a pair of squeamish junior mobsters drawing parallels between eating seafood and committing cold-blooded murder. This darkly comic vignette seems to promise a more arch, knowing, Tarantino-esque take on the gangster genre. But the plot soon settles into a more familiar mix…

Feeling at times like a Korean-language cousin of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, which was itself a remake of an Asian crime thriller, The Merciless revolves around a generation-spanning bromance between youthful wannabe gangster Jo Hyun-su (K-pop star Yim Si-wan) and genial but notoriously amoral gangland veteran Han Jae-ho (Sul Kyung-gu). This odd couple first forge a brotherly bond in prison after backing each other up in a string of brutal confrontations with bad-ass rivals and crooked guards…

Restlessly jumping back and forth in time, The Merciless comes together like a jigsaw, each piece revealing more detail of a grand canvas full of risky shared secrets, fragile loyalties and Faustian bargains.” — Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter