No Regret


No Regret begins as a perceptive glimpse into a specific gay subculture, then descends halfway through into Korean melodrama hell; put both parts together and it’s still ahead of the ghettoized gay movie par. Su-min (Lee Young-hoon) is a country orphan come to Seoul; fired from his factory job, he takes up “hostessing.” Cue realistic-looking simulated sex that shies just short of penetration and the stalker attentions of Jae-min (Lee Han), rich corporate heir. Writer/director Leesong Hee-il offers an authentic-seeming look into “host bars,” where young Korean boys strip during karaoke, then go off with the customers, and he’s made a gay movie where the gayness only comes out during the sex (though there’s plenty of it). Things go downhill after Su-min and Jae-min finally get together; family drama and a fiancée taking a page straight from Anne Hathaway interrupt their bliss. Eventually, all kinds of gangster clichés pop up, and people start hitting each other over the head with shovels. Until then, No Regret is a tiny, specific film admirable in its focus, competent digital cinematography, and lack of sentimentality. Too bad it turns into Extreme Korean Romance.