Mute Hee-Jin is working as a clerk in a fishing resort in the Korean wilderness; selling baits, food and occasionally her body to the fishing tourists. One day she falls in love to ... See full summary »
A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.
Robert De Niro,
The movie is based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971. A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. For ... See full summary »
A ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.
A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
Mute Hee-Jin is working as a clerk in a fishing resort in the Korean wilderness; selling baits, food and occasionally her body to the fishing tourists. One day she falls in love to Hyun-Shik, who is on the run for the police and rescues him with a fish hook, when he tries to commit suicide. Written by
Moritz Muehlenhoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Is this the same Kim Ki Duk who directed the poignant, life-spanning testimonial of "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring"? The same Kim Ki Duk who directed the exquisite, nearly silent, heartbreaking longing of "3 Iron"? The same Kim Ki Duk who dazzled us with the staggering tragedy of "The Coast Guard" and made us squirm about the ugliness of nonchalant teenage prostitution before returning to his almost patented nature motif to allow us all (characters and viewers alike) to experience redemption in "Samaritan Girl"? I just cannot seem to find him in this film.
Oh, sure, Kim's nature motif is still present. The film takes place entirely on a lake surrounded by mountains and on fishing floats resting placidly on the surface of calm waters. Yes, it's Kim Ki Duk, all right. Kim even describes the film as "beautiful" in an interview included in the DVD's special features. But I'm not sure anymore what that means after viewing this putrescent presentation.
What is beautiful about angry, potty-mouthed prostitutes, lustful, violent and potty-mouthed fishermen, a covetous mute merchant, explicit animal torture, sequences of self-mutilation and a pace that swings nauseatingly between bestial carnality and mindless brutality? These are the only elements of humanity that present themselves in this utterly confounding and ultimately pointless film. If it is based on a fable or intended as a parable or is meant to be symbolic of something greater, this reviewer is unfamiliar with the source material. It has been favorably compared to "Audition" by Japanese director Takashi Miike (much to Kim's satisfaction), but aside from some astonishingly good performances, especially given what they had to work with, by lead actors Seo Jung and Kim Yoo Suk, I find little reason to recommend this film. I have not seen "Audition," but I doubt it would alter in any way my view of "The Isle." Its violence is pornographic and senselessly sadistic. Its sex is not pornographic, but passionless and masochistic. Characters behave on irritating impulse because there is no plot. Its point is either non-existent or, I will admit, lost amidst Korean cultural quirks that I fail to understand.
The only beauty is in the cinematography, which is classic Kim: fog-shrouded boats lapping slowly across a serene lake, mountainous terrain dominating the background, and an imaginative and playful use of color. At times it seems as if viewers are locked in a big Kim Ki Duk romper room. Some touches, like the mysterious and seductive mute merchant played by Jung and the pleasantly odd use of motorbikes, are intriguing. But as a film, this effort is downright confusing and, in the end, offensive to the senses, not necessarily to sensibilities. One hopes that Kim will leave this kind of film-making in the trash heap of his past, for we know he is capable of so much more.
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