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‘The Merciless’ K-Drama: Cast, Plot & Characters Review

The Merciless
The Merciless cr: CJ E&M

The Merciless has all the fans of the action/crime genre fans roaring with pride. This thrilling South Korean crime action film will grab the attention of all your brain cells. Furthermore, it was also showcased at the prestigious 70th Cannes Film Festivals in the May of 2017. However, the icing on the cake is the seven minutes of standing ovation that the movie received. This movie is yet another addition to the wonderful movies that South Korea has gifted us with. It was released on May 17, 2017.  The Merciless is also popularly known as The World Of Bad Guys, and it surely does justice to both names. Although the movie is based on revenge, it is deeply emotional and makes you question a lot. The plot of this swashbuckler film revolves around the powerful Jae Ho.

Furthermore, Jae Ho is the king of the prison and makes all the rules. When he meets another young prisoner by the name of Jo Hyun Soo, who is unbeatable and proud, he takes a liking and takes him under his wing. Outside of the prison, Jae Ho is the second head of a criminal gang in Busan that runs a drug racket.  Upon getting out of prison, Jae Ho decides to go after the lead position. He was leading to a merciless battle between Boss Ko and Jae Ho. Adding to the activity factor is the Police Chief, Cheon, who eats up any leads to put Ko in jail hungrily. Furthermore, The Merciless was pre-sold to a total of eighty countries before its official release in Korea. In this article, we will tell you all the details of this film.

The Merciless: Who Are The Actors Behind The Badass Characters?

The cast of The Merciless consists of some of the most well-known actors of South Korea. To say that The Merciless, is just an action movie is an understatement. The movie pulls at your heartstrings with all the emotional and heartbreaking drama that it contains. So while the action sequences will pump up your adrenaline, the emotional scenes will make you cry a river. When the movie is full of contrasting emotions, the cast has to be on point. Luckily for The Merciless, each and every actor of both the main and supportive cast has played their respective roles with godly conviction. Sol Kyung Gu as Han Jae Ho fits his gangster role so well that even without dialogue, he looks intimidating.

The Merciless review

The Merciless cr: CJ E&M

Previously, Sol Kyung Gu has proved his talent with movies like The Angel Without, The Devil Within, I Want To Know Your Parents, Kill Bok Soon, and Memoir Of A Murdered. Im Shi Wan, on the other hand, plays Hyun Soo, who is an undercover police officer. It won’t be a far fetch to say that Im Shi Wan single-handedly deserves at least five minutes of the seven-minute standing ovation at the 70th Cannes Film Festival. Through his performance, Im Shi Wan manages to make the viewers go through a roller coaster of emotions. Furthermore, he aces in playing both the fearless gangster and the young child who lost his mother. The actor Im Shi Wan chooses roles that require putting forth deep emotions and are highly impactful. He has previously played the lead roles in dramas like Stranger From Hell, Run On, and Moon Embracing The Sun.

Moving on, members of the talented supporting cast include Kim Hee-Won from My Love From The Star, Jeon Hye Jin from the popular show Search: WWW, Lee Kyung Young from The World Of The Married, and Jang In Sub from No Tears Of The Dead. Furthermore, the crew is the real mastermind behind the movie. Byung Sung Hyun is the director, and the amazing storyline is Kim Min Soo’s work of art. Moreover, Yun Ji Won is the producer of The Merciless. The production is so convincing that you feel like you are inside the jail. If you are still not sure whether to watch this movie or not, we have a review.

The Merciless: An Unbiased Review

I call this an unbiased review, as I will be dissociating the past performances of the cast and crew involved in this showstopping movie. Without getting into the details, I can assure you that The Merciless is nowhere close to being a waste of time. Furthermore, according to the Korean Film Council, the movie sold over 95,261 tickets on the first day of release, making it a box-office. The Merciless was also awarded in the Top 10 Best Films category at the  37th Korean Association Of Film Critics Award. Furthermore, both the lead actors received awards for their excellent performances. Im Si Wan received the Best Popular Actor at The Seoul Awards in 2017. And, Sol Kyung Gu won the best actor at Daejong Film Awards. Many fans have added The  Merciless on their ‘movies to watch before you die list.

Although this action film has a long list of awards and nominations, there are things that could have been better. We will list the good and bad aspects of the movie so that you can decide whether to watch the movie or not.

Also Read: Secret Garden Kdrama Review: Cast, Plot, and OST

The Good Aspects

Unpredictable- Unlike a lot of action movies or movies with a revenge trope, The Merciless is unpredictable. In the beginning, you will think that The Merciless is about the fight to become the leader of the criminal gang. As time goes by, the attention slowly shifts from Jae Ho to Hyun Soo. The movie gives away the fact that Hyun Soo is an undercover cop in the trailer itself. So, the premise of the movie does not revolve around Jae Ho discovering Hyun Soo’s identity.

Im Siwan - The Merciless Cast

Im Siwan

Secondly, the movie itself is unbiased. It shows that both sides of the crowd can stoop to unfathomable lows to get what they want. Furthermore, the movie shows both the police and the gang of criminals using merciless means. How when it comes to attaining power, Jae Ho is vicious. In the same way, in order to catch the drug lord, Detective Chun In-Sook does not hold back one bit.

Now coming to our third point, this movie does not shy away from the gruesome scenes. This point could prove to be a hit or miss. I say this as some action movies enthusiast are constantly looking out for scenes that keep them up at night. However, if you are easily scared and like to keep things gentle for your eyes, then this movie ain’t for you. Like how a fellow gangster praises Jae Ho for killing people while holding eye contact. Furthermore, there is a horrendous scene where Jae Ho pours hot boiling oil on a person’s face.

The fourth and the most highly praised point of this film is the cinematography. Additionally, this movie has gotten the visual factor totally right. The action-packed fighting sequences really make your brains twist and turn. The fast pace of this movie reminded me of a war movie, how there is not even a moment of peace. Moreover, the opening scene of this movie includes Hyun Soo coming out of jail and Jae Ho welcoming him. After, the movie goes back in memory lane to how the two characters met in prison. This back and forth between the past and future is one of the best editing styles.

The Merciless is available to watch on Netflix.

The Bad Aspects of The Merciless

Firstly, this movie is just another fish in the sea. Although you will enjoy it while watching, not a lot of people will come back to watch it again. Not just that, but the film tries to cover too many areas at once. It tries to be deeply emotional and very merciless at the same time, which makes a lot of viewers confused.

Secondly, the editing. However, I mentioned earlier how it is a good thing that the movie switches between the past and future. It could have been done in a better way. Often times you just forget what the character is going through in the future and get super invested in the past. This could happen the other way round as well.

Thirdly, the movie tries to be too cool. It almost feels like they take all the iconic parts from the most popular action movies. For example, The Merciless has a lot of flashy cars, scenes where characters just simply pick up a fight, and also the typical club scenes. Within the first few minutes, we see Jae Ho giving Hyun Soo a Russian escort as a gift.

The above review is just my opinion, and opinions may defer.

Also Read: 15 Best Crime Movies Of All Time

Written By

I am Aliza Siddiqui and I am from Lucknow. I contribute to the company by writing engaging articles based on Kdrama and Kpop culture. You can contact me at

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