HOPELESS is a new crime drama thriller from South Korea. It’s about being trapped by circumstance and fighting to escape and make your life better. Read our full Hopeless movie review here!

HOPELESS is a South Korean (org. title: Hwaran) crime drama out on digital now. As with most productions from South Korea, the story is very character-driven. For this particular story, we follow one character in his attempt to escape the life he was born into.

In that sense, it reminded me of the very successful South Korean movie Burning (2018) which co-starred Steven Yeun. The runtime is 2 hours and 13 minutes, but it doesn’t feel too long. Quite an accomplishment in itself.

Continue reading our Hopeless movie review below. Find it On Digital on June 25, 2024.

A truly hopeless life

When we first meet the lead character, it’s obvious that he is miserable and just trying to get by while dreaming of a better life. Well, dreaming and trying to save up money. His stepdad beats him constantly and has managed to completely break his spirit.

He has spent his entire childhood in the same town, which isn’t very big, but it isn’t exactly a smalltown either. It is, however, riddled with crime and violence.

Needless to say, for someone wanting to escape his circumstances, there’s a quick way to make a lot of money fast. After crossing paths with a local gangster, who truly wants to help him (because he clearly sees a lot of himself in the teenager), he gets in deep. Fast!

Hopeless (2023) – Review | Korean Crime Drama

Violence and heartbreak

More than anything, the lead character in Hopeless just wants to be happy. Or really, he wants to ensure his mother’s happiness. With the stepfather constantly drinking, his mom isn’t being treated well either.

He has a stepsister, who seems to be the only one who can handle the man. While the relationship between the step-siblings is complicated, they always look out for one another. Never admitting as much, but we see how much they care.

Once he gets into the life of gangs and crime, he finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations. Often making him question if anything is worth this. And can he even escape this life when he wants to?

From start to finish, Hopeless is full of violence (brutal and visceral violence), but also various forms of emotional heartbreak. Nothing good seems to be able to thrive in this town.

Watch Hopeless On Digital now!

Writer and director of Hopeless is Kim Chang-hoon. This appears to be his first feature film (according to IMDb, anyway), but it definitely will not be his last. This is an amazing movie with so much heart and I cannot recommend it enough.

Also, the cast is absolutely amazing. I wasn’t familiar with many of the actors, but I feel confident I’ll be seeing them in future South Korean productions. The cast included Hong Xa Bin, Kim Jong-soo, and Song Joong-ki.

Hopeless is from South Korea (org. title: Hwaran) which means a runtime of 133 minutes isn’t surprising. However, it isn’t a given that the movie works with such a long runtime. Fortunately, writer-director Kim Chang-hoon has created an intense and intriguing film.

Hopeless (org. title: Hwaran) is out On Digital from June 25, 2024.


Writer/Director: Kim Chang-hoon
Starring: Hong Xa Bin, Kim Jong-soo, Song Joong-ki


After spending his entire childhood in a town riddled with crime and violence, a teenage boy saves up his money in hopes of someday moving with his mother to start a new, happier life. But after he crosses paths with a local gangster intent on helping him, he is drawn into increasingly dangerous situations that will leave him questioning whether his attempts to escape his hellish reality will instead ensnare him in it—permanently.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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