Friday, December 26, 2014

Film Review: Real Fiction (2000)

Real Fiction (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Joo Jin-mo/2000
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime 

"I was glued to my seat from the beginning to the end of this savage warpath."

A street artist savagely murders his foes -- real and imaginary.

Real Fiction follows Han-sik (Joo Jin-mo), a street artist, after he is bullied at his stand in the park -- this introduction felt a bit rough. He follows another mysterious young lady to a theater show called "Another Me." From there on, he is convinced to kill his enemies -- and he does so. The story is simple on the surface, but becomes a bit more complex the deeper you look. Fortunately, its surface simplicity is enough to satisfy up to its great ending.

Like all of Kim Ki-duk's films, Real Fiction has several levels. The surface level is an interesting and twisted narrative. It's a very engaging and entertaining thriller -- I was glued to my seat from the beginning to the end of this savage warpath. Then, you start looking deeper into its symbolism, themes, and metaphors, which create an even more intriguing film. The ending in particular was very contemplative. Of course, you can ignore these and enjoy the thrills of the film, but you'd only be getting part of the experience.

The acting was great, too. Joo Jin-mo is great as the dark yet charismatic lead. The supporting cast deliver great support, as they should. It's a little melodramatic at times, but it gets more balanced as the film proceeds. I especially enjoyed the music -- very distinct and very useful in setting the mood. The shooting style is also unique and creative, and even daring. The English subtitles on the US DVD are mediocre. There are some odd translations, some missed translations, and some late translations. I understood the story, but I had to work harder than I should've.

Writer and director Kim Ki-duk once again delivers a contemplative film without sacrificing any entertainment value. Kim Ki-duk has mastered the arthouse formula, many of his films can be enjoyed by mainstream audiences -- this film is proof of this statement. I recently watched a film titled Don't Blink, which sacrificed so much for its "metaphors," I'm glad to see a filmmaker like Kim Ki-duk make a thought-provoking thriller without alienating entertainment.

Overall, Real Fiction is a great film. It has a few flaws, such as the rough introduction and some minor acting issues, but it's a very entertaining and interesting film. Although the film doesn't force you to think, Real Fiction is a film worth thinking about. Unfortunately, the domestic (US) DVD has a mediocre translation. Let's hope this film gets a worthy upgrade. Anyway, this is highly recommended for fans of Kim Ki-duk. As usual, if you're new to Kim Ki-duk, I recommend you start with the masterful Rough Cut.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sex and nudity.

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