Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: Bad Guy (2001)

Bad Guy (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Cho Jae-hyun/2001
Where to Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...a remarkably twisted tale of love that should not be missed by any fan of Kim Ki-duk."

After being publicly humiliated by a young woman, Han-gi (Cho Jae-hyun), a silent gangster, orchestras a plot to trap Sun-hwa (Seo Won) in a world of prostitution...

On the surface, Bad Guy is a fairly simple film. The narrative follow Han-gi, a gangster who does not speak. One day, Han-gi finds himself attracted to Sun-hwa, a young college student. He awkwardly sits next to her, but she scoffs at his attempt. Before she can depart with her boyfriend, Han-gi steals a kiss, which leads to a public beating – but, that's not enough. Sun-hwa also demands an apology and, when she does doesn't get it, she insults him and spits in his face. So, Han-gi begins his plot for vengeance – in a sense. He baits Sun-hwa into stealing, which spirals her into a criminal underworld. Without spoiling much more, Sun-hwa becomes a prostitue to pay off her debt – and Han-gi secretly watches her from a two-way mirror. It's a chilling tale of love that leads to a thought-provoking ending.

In fact, the entire film is thought-provoking. Although the plot has some filler here and there, the story and the characters are intriguing – especially the latter. This is a film that enters taboo territory, bringing the audience into a world of prostitution, sex slavery, and violent crime. The characters that fill this grim world aren't the type you root for, either. No, for the most part, these are disturbed people. But, that's what so captivating about the film. Instead of having the same old characters running through the same old world, you get to experience something new – something to think about. The characters, the themes, the imagery... it's all so provocative. It's sort of like feeling culture shock for the first time. I felt the plot ran out of steam by the end, but, even after watching it some time ago, it still hasn't left my mind.

The acting is great, too. Cho Jae-hyun plays a silent gangster. His performance is reliant on his facial expressions and his eyes. Fortunately, Cho delivers a powerful performance without words. Seo Won is also great. In fact, the entire supporting cast was perfect. In terms of acting, it all felt real – it felt raw. The film is shot beautifully. Each frame is filled with great detail. The music was also fantastic. It's one of those soundtracks I'd listen to without the film. Writer and director Kim Ki-duk creates an uncompromising and provocative experience. He crafts unique characters using contentious narratives. He doesn't feel the need to spell everything out, either. I've always appreciated and admired that about Kim's films; Bad Guy is no different.

Overall, Bad Guy is a great film. There are some pacing and filler issues, but it is ultimately an effective experience. Due to the disturbing nature of the movie, it's certainly not a film for everyone. However, for those who enjoy entering taboo territory and analyzing troubled characters, this is a treat. Bad Guy is a remarkably twisted tale of love that should not be missed by any fan of Kim Ki-duk.

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

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