Sun Nyog struggles after joining a Buddhist temple as a nun for lack of discipline. She saves an alcoholic from suicide but he later rapes her and she is forced out of the temple. Still, ...
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Larry G. Spangler
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Sun Nyog struggles after joining a Buddhist temple as a nun for lack of discipline. She saves an alcoholic from suicide but he later rapes her and she is forced out of the temple. Still, she grows fond of him. Another nun, Jin Song, is a grim ascetic who does well at the temple. She goes to the mountains to do a long retreat in a cave, but a brutal old monk who is there rapes her. Meanwhile, Sun Nyog returns to the nunnery to attend to the dying abbess and shows her spiritual superiority. Written by
This is that OTHER movie made about Buddhist monastic life in Korea in 1989. I'm Kwon-taek's film is far more conventional and has neither the depth or the strange, quiet poetry of One Shot Wonder Bae Yong-kyun's "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left For the East?" The main character of "Come, Come, Come Upward" (Kang Soo-yeong, who won best actress at the Venice Film Festival for I'm's "The Surrogate Woman") is expelled from high school after wrongly being accused of having an affair with her teacher and decides to join a nunnery. The head nun has doubts about Kang's sincerity and devotion to the Way and casts her back into the real world after a crazed man becomes obsessed with her and starts to cause ripples in the serenity of temple life. The film eventually breaks off into two trajectories, one following another young, surer nun of serene countenance as she, too, is forced by the head nun as a test of devotion to face the evils and temptations of the outside world. One woman is destined to return to the monastery, and the other to forever live outside. Elegantly shot, as all I'm's films are, but underdeveloped on the narrative level, as many of I'm's films are, "Come Upward" never achieves the sublime heights of its similarly-themed counterpart in the same year. "Bodhi-Dharma" tried to convey the experience of Buddhist temple life through images, parable, and mystery; "Come Upward" is more literal, and plainer.
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