12 3-Iron


A couple of years ago I got a little bit crazy and bought a lot of DVDs, which I never got around to watching.   I think this is probably the case for a lot of people like me.  So writing this blog has enabled me to catch up on some films that have sat there gathering dust for a few months.

Kim Ki-Duk is a director I have struggled with.  I think the first film of his I was aware of was “The Isle”, which got a lot of notice on the back of the J-Horror boom and some controversy about animal cruelty (some fish being killed).  I did not really enjoy the film (although I may revisit it one day), and have found most of what I have seen of his work pretty cold and uninvolving.  I do remember enjoying “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring” when it was shown on Film Four, but as a nice mood piece rather than something I would come back to again and again.

So it was with some trepidation that I popped “3-Iron” into the DVD 3iron02 player.  However, a rewarding experience was the quite unexpected result.

The story is simple.  A Drifter breaks into holiday-makers home, and lives in their houses while they are away.  He repays them by cleaning up, making small repairs.  The young man is a cipher, living his live through that of others.  He then comes across an older abused wife, with whom he makes a bond, and eventually they become lovers.  Of course things fall apart, but the journey back from this is the most charming part of all.

Being a Kim Ki-Duk film there are two signature elements here – there is some violence, and there is very little dialogue between the main characters.  Actually did I say little dialogue?  In the whole film the main two actors say one phrase between them.  The film is not totally silent, other characters speak a lot, but it is the amazing way the two leads entrance the viewer with their silent performance that makes this film so special.

This is also a beautiful film.  Shot mostly inside, there is always something subtle going on to entrance you.

However, as always with Korean films, there is something of a genre change part way through.  The gritty realism gives way to a little fantasy later, as the male lead develops a way of being unseen by others.  I am personally fine with this, but it might confuse the more literal–minded observer.

This is a film I would highly recommend, probably one to watch alone rather than with friends.  You won’t cry, but you will smile and maybe be inspired.


One Comment Add yours

  1. C. says:

    This would so be the first Korean movie to watch for me if only I could find them here… 🙂


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