Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: 3-Iron (2004)

3-Iron (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Jae Hee/2004
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...simple but effective on the surface and even more so when you look beyond."

Tae-suk (Jae Hee), a wandering loner, breaks into homes while their owners are away. One day, he finds himself in the home of an abused housewife Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon), unaware of her presence...

3-Iron is fairly simple film – on the surface. The plot follows Tae-suk who tapes takeout menus on homes and breaks into the homes where the menus have not been removed by the end of the day. Eventually, he stumbles upon the household of Sun-hwa and her abusive husband. They don't speak a single word to each other, but have an understanding – an understanding and connection deep enough to have them runaway together. So, Sun-hwa adopts Tae-suk's wandering lifestyle for a brief moment. The story continues in this way, but I'd rather not spoil anything else. The ending is great, though – a very interesting and thought-provoking ending.

In fact, most of the film is very interesting and thought-provoking – when you look past the surface. Right off the bat, I have to tell you: this is not a film for everyone, especially those who don't want to think or immerse themselves into an art-house film. The drama on the surface works well, especially considering the lack of dialogue, but the symbolism and themes are really the meat of the plot. This is a film that requires some thinking. Not because it's confusing or difficult, but because it's a film that has very human themes and reflective qualities.

I'm not sure it can be fully enjoyed as a pure drama. This isn't a film like Silenced, which is excellent, where everything is laid out for you. This is more like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, which is a film that makes you think – and rightfully so. Not only is that film thought-provoking, but it's a film from the very same director, Kim Ki-duk. In my case, I enjoyed it on both levels. I liked the drama, especially how it is developed without direct dialogue between the leads, and I liked the general flow of the film; it has a very tranquil yet ominous atmosphere that is really mesmerizing. It can be a bit slow at times, though. Remember, it's a slow-paced film to begin with, but I found some moments to be unnecessarily and unusually slow.

The acting is wonderful. Jae Hee and Lee Seung-yeon share great chemistry without sharing dialogue – if I remember correctly, Jae Hee doesn't speak a word, while Seung-yeon has one line of dialogue. This was very impressive because both actors had strong, compelling performances and it was mainly due to their facial expressions and body movements. The film is beautifully-shot – its photography plays a large factor in the mesmerizing qualities of the film. The music is also superb – it doesn't play often, but it's magnificent. The English subtitles on the U.S. DVD are great, despite there being very little dialogue. Director Kim Ki-duk delivers another magnificent film – he has perfectly captured the balance between traditional film and art house. In fact, Ki-duk is the only filmmaker that I am not weary of watching when it comes to art house.

Overall,3-Iron is a superb drama/art house film. It's simple but effective on the surface and even more so when you look beyond. It's a very compelling and thought-provoking drama. If you're accustomed to art house films, I think you'll love this gem. However, if you're more of a blockbuster or traditional film fan – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – I recommend some lighter Kim Ki-duk films to ease you into. Maybe try out Rough Cut, which is written by Kim Ki-duk.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, some sexuality and nudity mostly in photographs.

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