On The Run
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 04/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Tae Suk (Jae Hee) and Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeong) meet or more to the point see each other for the first time, it takes but a moment for them to realize they were meant to be together: one, very quiet moment you see because neither of them utter nary a word during the bulk of Ki-Duk Kim's "3 Iron." In fact, in this movie it is only the loud mouths, the abusers, the malcontents, the bullies, the bad guys who speak out loud and when they do, it usually is a scream, a put down or an abuse.
Tae Suk has an ingenious style of living: he breaks into unoccupied homes and settles down for a night or two. He even does any laundry he finds and neatly hangs it out to dry. He also repairs anything he finds broken: he is the ultimate, caring intruder as, even though he eats whatever is in the refrigerator, he often leaves the home cleaner than he finds it.
It is during one of those "stays" that Tae-Suk meets Sun-hwa, who escapes her abusive husband and joins Tae-Suk in his vagabond ways. Almost immediately, Tae-Suk and Sun-hwa are in sync in what becomes "their" quest to find the perfect home to occupy. One such home is decorated in the traditional Korean-style with a beautiful garden and the two are the most tranquil and at peace there as befits their obviously loved and care-for surroundings.
As with all fables, and "3 Iron" is definitely one, the real world intrudes in the person of Min-kyu (Kwon Hyuk-ho), Sun-hwa's abusive and obnoxious husband who promptly buys off the police and has Tae-Suk arrested and sends Sun-hwa into a major depression.
Director Ki-Duk Kim (the sublime "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring") delicately slices open Korean society and exposes the ugly underbelly and the real brutality the often passes for love and caring. And by extension, he exposes this fakery underneath all societies with the audacious use of wit, humor and a knowing eye on what makes us all tick. That he also creates a romance that rivals that of any modern screen pair just adds to his masterful achievement.
Great Korean film
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 08/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the more talented Korean directors working today is Kim-ki Duk whose latest film 3-Iron, was released this year (2005) here in the US and is out on DVD domestically in September. This is the tale of a young guy--nameless-who makes a meager living as a distributor of promo flyers for an eating establishment and also has the habit of breaking into the homes of people who are away so he can eat their food and maybe take a nap. But he's not completely malicious; one of his great virtues is the ability to clean clothes by hand.
One such house he breaks into is that of a middle-aged man with a young wife who's been mistreated. As he goes about his gentle intruder business he doesn't realize, at first, that the wife is right there in the house with him, although her husband is not. It's obvious from her appearance that she's been recently roughed up. She watches him fascinated and finally makes her presence known.
The two of them hook up with each other almost immediately and as one thing leads to another, the convergence of the spurned husband, an angry cop, an angrier prison guard, and the two lovers--along with the game of golf (from which the film derives its title) results in a unique film that, although almost 70% dialogue free, is a really compelling love story.
There's a sequence in a prison cell with the male lead that is truly imaginative, absorbing, even compelling. And the device of the scale being modified (our protagonist is also an expert at "fixing" things) is very clever, especially as shown at the very end of the film when the lovers stand on the scale together and the combined weight is somewhat less than it should be.
Both lovers have the innate (and eventually overt) ability to be "ghost people"; this contrasts with the middle-aged husband's rude, crude persona, as it does with that of the cop and the prison guard. The implication of this, interestingly enough, is that the finer emotions--love, true feeling, compassion--are those experienced by people who are maybe not completely in the world but just outside of it, while those who are very much of this world express themselves roughly, crudely, angrily, making the world what we unfortunately expect it to be rather than what we know it CAN be.
This is a brilliant film and should be seen by a much wider audience. Very highly recommended.
Pixie-like Sweetness & Simplicity
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""3-Iron" is a delightful surprise. Kim Ki-duk's "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter" was so lyrical and so cinematically beautiful that it is amazing that this DVD keeps up that film's quality. The fact that most of the film is nonverbal makes this subtitled drama particularly easy for international audiences to adopt. Jae Hee Song as the young lead Tae-suk is good looking and keeps our eyes glued to the screen. The unusual plot of a young man who breaks into houses and apartments while the owners are away is filled with lyrical details. In one scene, he carefully selects a toothbrush before sitting on the toilet brushing his teeth. He seems to experience the lives of the people by seeing their surroundings, cleaning their clothes, fixing appliances & eating their food. Lee Seung-yeon was in a 1996 film about a serial killer called "Pianoman" before taking on the role of Sun-hwa. Sun is an abused wife of a controlling husband. Tae-suk inhabits her house as she quietly observes him taking a bath and reveals herself to him as he lies in her bed self-stimulating to nude pictures of her from an album. Her middle aged controlling husband Min-kyo played by Gweon Hyeok-ho returns from a business trip. He has bruised her face and bloodied her lip and blames her for not picking up the phone and speaking to him. Depressed, she falls into an exquisite wordlessness that suits Tae-suk's observant lifestyle of stepping into other people's lives. After the husband has slapped his wife, Tae-suk launches golf balls into the squealing husband. When Sun-hwa flees with Tae-suk on his motorcyle, they enter a series of other people's homes, relaxing on a red sofa looking out on an interior garden, being in the home of a boxer and finally finding the body of an elderly person that they clean, wrap and bury according to custom. Not each of Tae-suk's attempts wind up benign, however, as he injures a person in a car with a golf ball and perhaps results in the shooting of a young mother. Ju Jin-mo plays the corrupt detective who eventually charges Tae-suk and releases Sun-hwa to the prison of her husband. Tae-suk immediately applies his observation of minute detail to his jail cell, memorizing the floor, exploring the walls and completely making himself at home. Lee Ju-suk is the abusive jailer who repeatedly investigates an apparently empty cell as Tae-suk mirrors each movement and stays directly behind the jailer. It is breathtaking cinema for the incorporation of martial arts-like movement and dance in to the simplest of surroundings. The film concludes with Tae-suk's escape and revisiting of houses into which he had previously broken. It climaxes with him reuniting with Sun-hwa, kissing her as she hugs her husband. "3-Iron" is a wonderful delight, quite different from the heavy-handed car-crash Hollywood-style blockbuster, pixie-like in its sweetness and simplicity. It explores the sometimes small distance between life and dream. Bravo!"
Extraordinary Film with Silence, Solitude, and Golfballs...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 04/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those who have been introduced to Ki-Duk Kim through films such as Samaritan Girl (2004), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003), Bad Guy (2002), and The Isle (2000) have seen what this director can accomplish. All of his films display something unique and special that grabs the audience's attention in several ways. Many remember the fishhook scene from the Isle or the potent theme from Samaritan Girl. In both cases Ki-duk Kim presents something bizarre that generates visual discomfort and curiosity. Underneath the surface, he also offers a cerebral journey with much symbolism and artistic expression that the audience can explore, as his storytelling provides the necessary hooks to keep the audience both intrigued and curious. 3-Iron has all the same ingredients as Ki-duk Kim's previous films, but it also presents a new story with originality and clever symbolism in regards to silence, solitude, and devotion.
Often people ask for forgiveness, plead for help, or instruct others what to do, as if the mere words coming out of their mouth had some magical meaning. In this word-saturated society where the meaning of words has been washed out into faded jumbles of verbal explanations, people use words without any form of contemplation. Words without thought or feeling no longer provide any meaning, as actions often contradict the meaning of the word. This leaves the society with empty and hollow words that have no more value. When words have no meaning, action transcends into an interpretation of the persona of an individual, as actions are the embodiment of thoughts and feelings. 3-Iron illustrates the notion of meaninglessness in speech through a sublime portrayal of actions that speak more than the utterance of any character.
Transiently Tae-suk (Hee Jae) flows between different socioeconomic neighborhoods on his BMW motorcycle, as he tapes take-out menus on the doors of different homes. His purpose brings the notion of dubious intention, as he later returns in order to find the ones that have not been removed from the door, which suggests that the homeowner is not at home. Tae-suk carries a classy shiny locksmith box around with him that he uses to break in through the front door into the homes that still have the take-out menu taped on the door. Initially, the audience judges Tae-suk's actions by placing him in a category for criminals; however, patience will provide a surprise for the audience.
Through one of Tae-suk's entries to a stranger's house the audience get to witness his encounter with a woman, Sun-hwa (Seung-yeon Lee), who has been severely beaten by her husband. At first she merely observes him, as he is unaware of her presence. He goes about doing what he does every time he breaks into different homes. Eventually, she appears for him, which initially frightens him. In silence Tae-suk takes off on his motorcycle, but after some contemplation he returns to find her being abused once again. This is Tae-suk's turning point in the film, as he decides to interact with the help of an 3-Iron golf club and a couple of golf balls.
What is striking in this story is Tae-suk's silence, as he does not utter a word. He does not even talk with the beautiful Sun-hwa who runs off with him, as she follows him innocently and trustingly wherever he goes. Through her willingness to follow him, she adopts his way of life and his silence. Together they form a limitless bond of silent devotion, as they grow closer to each other through each other's actions. The actions display their personal feelings and thoughts, which display their true identity while the world around them continues to spread the verbal nonsense.
Once again, Ki-duk Kim succeeds in mesmerizing the audience through the title 3-Iron, which has the original title Bin-jip that translates Empty House. Even in the title Ki-duk Kim provides symbolism that has a dual allegorical meaning, as it refers to the silence. This silence could suggest absence and solitude while it could also provide an opportunity to see the truth. The second interpretation is a more complex explanation that is further evolved through Tae-suk's drawing in his hand of an eye, which also has its own symbolic meaning. The symbol of an eye in the hand combined with silence rises the question of whether words provide the truth, as they are easily manipulated while actions cannot be concealed, as they can be observed and felt. Maybe, this is a far-fetched theory, however, Tae-suk's silence and actions do the only speaking for him.
Together with the symbolism and cerebral presentation of the theme, the audience gets to come into contact with breathtaking cinematography. The camerawork enhances each scene, which is cleverly put together with detailed mise-en-scene and wonderful framing. Ki-duk Kim who also wrote the script manages to unveil a cinematic experience with very limited writing, and instead focus on the importance of what one can see and feel. This eventually leads the audience through a 90-minute superb journey where golf balls, actions, and words are tossed around in a brilliant composition."