Too Tired to Die

Director: Wonsuk Chin
Screenwriters: Wonsuk Chin

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


A potent mixture of American indie savvy, European weltschmerz, and Asian high style permeates first-time director Wonsuk Chin’s tragi-comedy Too Tired to Die. The charismatic Kenji (Takeshi Kaneshiro from Chungking Express) is a young Japanese man measuring out his life in coffee cups in downtown New York when he receives an unwanted visit from a fetching and decidedly ungrim reaper (Mira Sorvino in numerous guises) who gives him the news that he has twelve hours to live. That sets Kenji on a quest to do all the things he should have done . . .if only he had had the energy.

Heir apparent to Hal Hartley, Chin, who also wrote the screenplay, spoons delectable smatterings of Hong Kong gangster films and Bergman melancholia in with exotic monochrome dream sequences to create a thoroughly satisfying query about life and how to live it. He elicits spirited performances from an all-star cast that includes Jeffrey Wright (Basquiat), Michael Imperioli (Goodfellas), Bill Sage (Simpe Men), Geno Lechner (Schindler’s List), and Ben Gazzara (Husbands). And throughout the film, we can’t take our eyes off Kaneshiro, dazzling in his first American film, with his stilted English and endearing eagerness, his hip suit and hair falling over his eyes . . .and his life ebbing away.

Wonsuk Chin, Director
Born in Seoul, Korea, in May 1968, Wonsuk Chin came to the United States in 1989 to study film at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Instead of going back to Korea for military service, he stayed and worked at a video store (downtown), a Korean deli (uptown), various restaurants (uptown and downtown) and a Korean-American radio station (midtown) before he wrote and directed his first feature, Too Tired to Die.

— Genevieve Villaflor

Screening Details

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