Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Aimless Bullet (1961)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Aimless Bullet (1961, S. Korea) (aka Obaltan, or The Stray Bullet)

In Hyun-mok Yoo's tragic, bleak, noirish and gloomy drama - an expressionistic social realism film (similar to Italian Neo-realism) about a dysfunctional, working class extended family - they were trapped and living in the shanty town of Liberty Village (within the city of Seoul) in post-war Korea - it has often been rated as the best Korean film ever made:

  • the despairing family of seven included tooth-ache-suffering, struggling to survive accountant Cheol-ho (Kim Jin-kyu) and his pregnant wife (Moon Jung-suk) (who eventually died giving birth), his two young children, his shiftless younger brother Yeong-ho (Choi Moo-ryong) - a scar-faced, unemployed war veteran, their crazed, senile bedridden PTSD-suffering mother (Noh Hae-sin) (who spoke the film's oft-repeated refrain: "Let's get out of here!"), and Cheol-ho's unmarried sister Myeong-suk (Seo Ae-ja) - an ex-nurse turned prostitute servicing US soldiers
  • in a significant sequence, the desperate Yeong-ho, after foolishly turning down a film job that exploited his war injuries, planned an armed robbery of the South Gate Bank; after the robbery was botched, he was chased by police (he paused along a line of fortune tellers, ran through deserted streets, entered an underground area filled with water where a woman had hanged herself with her crying baby still tied to her back, and scampered through a workers' labor protest rally - where the protesters shouted: "Pay us more! We are hungry!"); he was slowed down when his actress friend Miri (Kim Hye-jeong) approached and begged him to give himself up; he threw his bundle of money at her and into the air, fired his gun upward as he climbed a ladder, and surrendered while sobbing
  • in the follow-up scene - the paperboy son Min Ho hawked newspapers of Yeong-ho's bank robbery ("Papers! Papers!") - the cover-story ("Bank Robber Captured After 10 minutes of chase") was the crime committed by his uncle Yeong-ho
  • in the film's conclusion, the tormented Cheol-ho was transported in the back seat of a taxi-cab, as blood dripped from his mouth (from a dentist's recent tooth extraction); he was dazed, indecisive and aimless about where to go - he directed the driver to Liberty Village, then to University hospital, then to the police station, and finally to "anywhere"; the driver and his companion thought they had picked up a real drunken loser: ("He's just a dud, like one of those wild shells that fired aimlessly")
Cheol-ho's Concluding Taxi-Cab Ride

"I've tried so hard to be a good son, a good husband, a good father, a good brother, a good clerk..."

"Let's get out of here!"
  • the ending sequence was comprised of Cheol-ho's thoughts - in voice-over: "Aimlessly -- I've tried so hard to be a good son, a good husband, a good father, a good brother, a good clerk. Why are there so many good things I have to be? (He collapsed sideways onto the seat) You might be right. Did God send me out like an aimless bullet with no place to go? But I should be going somewhere, in some direction, now, somewhere"
  • he ultimately told the driver, echoing the words of his mother: "Let's get out of here!" - the film's last words were of the paperboy son still running through the streets selling newspapers: "Papers, papers!"

PTSD Mother: "Children: Let's get out of here!"

Yeong-ho's Bank Robbery Attempt

Flight After Robbery and Capture

Headlines: "Bank Robber Captured After 10 minutes of chase"


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