No Breathing movie review

Two misfits in the world of competitive swimming are forced to enter the same sports high school. Won Il (Seo In Guk) was once a promising talent, but now, dislikes water. Arrogant Woo Sang (Lee Jong Suk) is competitive, but burdened by his father’s ambition. There are teen high jinks, eating, some topless shots, and then, the melodrama.

Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★.5
Only 만: ★

Side Dish Posh Woo Sang shies away from eating chicken feet. He doesn’t know what he is missing. Here’s a recipe for Spicy Hot Chicken Feet.

Only 만: So, No Breathing is probably fresher in your mind than mine, since I watched it a while ago, lured in by the idea of Seo In Guk and Lee Jong Suk on a swim team.

Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Yes, this movie was obviously fangirl fodder. You take two attractive K-drama actors, place them in a scenario where they have a legitimate reason for taking off their shirt repeatedly, and the movie practically writes itself. Yet, the director really wasted what he was given.

Only: My memory of the film is pretty hazy, but mostly because it wasn’t that memorable. It’s pretty surprising given the scenario, but I recall being bored for long stretches of the movie, what with random, unnecessary drama, a dull love triangle, and Lee Jong Suk phoning in an underwhelming performance.

Junggugeo Kaenada: The first half of the movie aims for wacky, and there is actually very little swimming. Instead, Won Il (Seo In Guk) is constantly eating, and a sulky Woo Sang (Lee Jong Suk) floats in and out of frame. Then, the second half of the movie becomes melodramatic; it is time for the characters to get serious and get back to work. They separate the male leads for training, and belatedly, the special swimming technique that the movie is named after becomes the focus.

Only: On a side note, I know little about competitive swimming, but a special swimming technique that involves not breathing for long stretches seems completely idiotic. Especially when the guy who invented it dies from using it.

But, back to the movie, the wacky parts were somewhat entertaining, but the melodrama was pretty painful. Add to that the lack of development in the friendship/rivalry between Woo Sang and Won Il, and you wonder why you’re even watching.

Junggugeo Kaenada: Sadly, there was no chemistry between the leads, including the requisite female love interest. The actors are not entirely to blame since the director provided few opportunities for Won Il and Woo Sang to bond. Initially, Won Il finds a pair of equally goofy swimmers to hang out with while a standoffish Woo Sang watches from a distance. Then, as mentioned previously, when the boys start training, they do so at separate camps, meaning lots of individual training montages.

There was one notable wasted opportunity. At around the midway point, when Won Il and Woo Sang have started warming up to each other, the swim team go to the Philippines. Won Il gets weepy on the beach by himself. Woo Sang comes across him, looks sympathetic while removing his ear phones, approaches Won Il, then the scene ends abruptly. No bonding moment!

Only: Right. And, much as I love watching people swimming… no, wait. I don’t love watching people swimming. Their training was not only boring, there was no basis for their rivalry, so it was hard to care which one of them won. By the end, I was actively tuning out what was going on in favour of hoping they would turn up shirtless again.

Junggugeo Kaenada: It was not worth the wait. There was a weird cast over everything that made every scene look like it was lit by fluorescent bulbs, which was flattering to no one. I am amazed at how unappealing Lee Jong Suk and Seo In Guk looked in the movie, despite the obvious effort they put into working out.

Only: Agreed. If a movie is a thin excuse for fan service, they should at least make the fan service worthwhile. I wasn’t asking for a lot from this movie: a mildly amusing plot, some male bonding, and a lot of shirtlessness. It doesn’t seem like much to ask for when you’ve got a cast that’s high on both appeal and comedic talent. And yet, we got little of anything.

Junggugeo Kaenada: No Breathing was spectacularly boring and unattractive. I don’t think anything more needs to be said.


  1. Drat! From what I’d read, this movie sounded like the Ouran High School Swim Club (ie. lots of good looking guys wearing very little and having fun) but – nah, I think I’ll pass too. Also, as a former competitive swimmer and current master’s swimmer – sometimes, the terrible swim form in tv/film just seems ridiculous! It’s a bit like filming a speed skating movie but giving everyone figure skates.


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