Ki-duk Kim is one of my favorite filmmakers. He seems to always stick to his vision and, I suspect, enjoys going against the very grain of where he is expected to go. It is my opinion that he takes audiences to "places" in Korean culture that other Korean filmmakers dare not go. I had been waiting to see this film on the screen but the opportunity has yet to come. I was thrilled when a pal sent me the just released DVD.
Ki-duk Kim's work is surreal, socio-political and melo-dramatic all at once. This can be an uncomfortable combination. I find that there is often a dark comedic element at work in his films which makes it all the more uncomfortable. In fact, I often wonder if the "comedy" I find is intended. As a viewer, I don't care. I find his work endlessly interesting and unforgettable.
This is not his finest work. It is, however, a visually stunning work. At it's heart are two central ideas playing off each other: the 21st century obsession with plastic surgery and the obsessive quality of love/devotion. The film is filled with character insecurity and the neurotic. The surreal set up for this film is also a bit too confused. However, I would urge anyone interested in his work or the films that are coming out of Asis to seek this film out.
There has been criticism of the theatrics of the performers. While I understand this issue I feel the actors give exactly what Kim was after. The pitch of the performances match the over-the-top story line.
This is an intellectual film. I think what I love the most is the fact that it is visually intellectual vs. plot driven intellectual. I am not sure I managed to get that idea out, but I hope whoever reads this understands what I am trying to articulate.