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Poongsan has the unenviable - and death-defying - job of delivering messages across the North and South Korean border to separated families. When South Korean government agents ask him to smuggle in In-ok, the lover of a high-ranking North Korean defector, into the South, the damsel and rescuer fall in love instead. Written by
Stanislav S, Sochi, Russia
Having just endured two hours with this film, laughing in disbelief at all the wrong places and clawing at my eyes in pain, I feel that someone has to lay out some criticism here, as everyone else seem too scared of criticizing Kim Ki-Duk to do so.
First of all, I wasn't even aware that Kim Ki-Duk had written and produced this flick until my girlfriend told me so, about 20 minutes in. Of course, the mute protagonist immediately reminded me of Ki-Duk's work, but already at that point, with so many flaws and stupidities in the script and execution of the picture, I'd never have guessed that Ki-Duk would have had been within a hundred-mile radius of this set at any time.
I'm a big fan of Kim Ki-Duk's earlier films, so watching this is just jaw-dropping. I cannot fathom how anyone, least of all Ki-Duk, can write such nonsensical below-soap opera trash and get it published and distributed.
Early on we were mesmerized and joking that perhaps Ki-Duk had been using the last three years getting severely acquainted with some Soju bottles or just suffered from massive brain hemorrhaging, but the bottom line, as expressed by my girlfriend was, "Are we really going to watch through all of this?"
And then it just got worse and worse and worse and then a tad worse still. It seems like having been made with a milk money budget. Terrible acting, terrible editing, terrible script writing, well - terrible everything.
There's not a single thing that anyone does in this movie that makes sense. Both on a character basis and on a script basis. The latter mostly because there seems to be no point to anything that happens on screen. We just don't know why the heck anyone does what he or she does. What the point of the whole ordeal is - where the script wants to take us - what the message is. And yet, what they do apparently is uttermost crucial for them to do, because the script takes so many liberties defying everything we've just been told about every character and the story so far to have them act out this endless string of stupid stupid things out of the blue.
You'll also notice that there's no middle-ground for the way the any one of the characters behave here. Either they're weeping and/or screaming hysterically, they're deeply depressed and apathetic, or they're completely off-the-wall in a way that would put Adam Sandler on PCP to shame. Add to this that everyone seems to be either deeply retarded or extremely childish. They all act like they're pre- teens. It's utterly unbelievable that any one of them would be able to hold the job they're supposedly holding without having some kind of care person to aid them through their day and keep them from getting themselves killed.
Then there's the romance part. You kind of already hate the female side of that from the get-go. She's just extremely annoying, not to mention dumb, selfish, self-pitying and disgraceful. The male counterpart - our protagonist - is just a piece of dead lumber. Whereas the mute characters in other Kim Ki-Duk films are just depicted perfectly and carry with them this poetic reverence, not much unlike Buddhist monks, this time around he's just plain annoying. You get the feeling that he's not speaking, because if he did, he'd sound just as stupid as the rest of the characters.
Then there're the too-many-to-count script blunders and logic fails. Like someone stepping on a landmine, taking a flight through the air, and walking away without a scratch. Like jumping over a 12-foot fence just like that. Like the Northeners torturing someone, then for no reason letting that person walk around freely the moment after, to wreak some havoc. Like a Northener being smuggled to South Korea, getting angry with someone on the South side, and asking to be taken back to Pyonyang instead of just opening the door and live without this other person as a Southener. Like torturing someone to make them speak all the while having the victim's mouth covered with duct tape. I could continue this list ad nauseum, but it'd take you just as long to read it as it would to watch the film.
Very few films in the "upper class" of cinema manage to portray their heroes so badly that you wish for them to disappear from the screen, but this film not only manages that - save for a few pleasure girls and a cute little boy, I can't really think of a single character in this film that I didn't wish would just disappear from view. That's quite a feat.
I'm appalled and shocked. And for the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone would give this even a mediocre review. It's the worst Korean film I've ever seen, and I've seen some pretty silly ones. I am, however, thankful that we missed it when it was in the cinemas. At least I didn't pay money for this.
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