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One Armed Boxer

Enemy at the Dead End (aka 'Desire to Kill') (2009)

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I got through watching this one last night. The movie has a really unique concept, something which is truly refreshing to see in todays movie climate where almost everything seems to have been done before - the story revolves around 2 men who share the same hospital room, both semi-paralysed and suffering from distorted memory loss, but the one thing they are able to remember is that for some reason, they want to kill each other.

Cheon Ho-jin plays Kim Min-ho, a man determined to commit suicide but constantly rescued and attempted to be rehabilitated, and Yoo Hae-jin plays Park Sang-eob, a man who enters the movie with a severe head injury and no memory. When Sang-eob enters the picture, Min-ho suddenly has flashbacks that it was him that killed the woman he loved....or did he? As the movie moves forward, we learn that neither mens memory is to be trusted, and the truth lies somewhere inbetween both of their random recollections.

Considering close to 80% of the movie takes place in the somewhat delapidated hospital room the 2 men share, first time directors and screen writers Jo Won-hee-I & Kim Sang-hwa do a great job of cranking up the tension as well as the intrigue. Neither character is particularly likeable, however by the time Min-ho decides to stop attempting to kill himself for the sole purpose of recovering in the hope that he`ll be able to kill Sang-eob, they have us completely immersed in the events that are unfolding.

The movies tone is difficult to pin. Essentially it is a very dark piece of cinema, and by the time the 2 men inevitably get the chance to get their hands on each other, it certainly doesn`t shy away from making it a nasty, bloody, desperate scene...despite the fact that neither of them can even stand up on their own 2 feet or have the strength to throw one decent punch.

In the early stages, it is in fact this complete lack of mobility which the characters have that the directors use to create some darkly comic scenes, including a musical montage which comprises of Min-ho doing various physical rehabilitation excersices, juxtoposed with his attempts to kill Sang-eob, which I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud at, it was so well done, and frankly, absurd.

Indeed, much of the humor in the first half of the movie comes from Min-ho`s attempts to kill the barely conscious Sang-eob at night when no nurses are around, only to wake up later and be greeted by Sang-eob`s over enthusiastic "Good morning!!!", which makes him question if the events of the night even happened at all.

As I mentioned before, in the second half things get much darker, as Sang-eob`s memory also returns, and both men desperately start questioning each others beliefs as to why they`re out to get each other. The answer is delivered in the finale of the movie, and unfortunatley it is also the movies only weak point, as it doesn`t entirely convince and all seems a bit contrived. But ultimately it`s not enough to spoil all that has gone before, and I`d still recommend `Enemy at the Dead End` to anyone who is after an original movie with just the right amount of mystery & suspense, throw in some black humor and a nasty streak of violence, and it`s enough to make sure I`ll definitely be keeping my eye on what these guys do next.


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I had no idea about this until today, but apparently Terracotta Distribution released this in the UK back in 2012 under the title 'Desire to Kill', with the best tagline ever - "Oldboy in a hospital room" - if you can pick this up cheap, it's well worth it.



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I missed this thread when it was originally posted. This film does sounds... at the risk of aping ShaOW!linDude's words... intriguing. I'll be on the look out for it. I'll bet they have a copy at this one brick and mortar joint I go to. If I get to see it, I'll add my two cents about it here.

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