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Bin -Jip (3-Iron) from Kim Ki-Duk

Bin-Jip (3-Iron)

Violence has always been a dominent component of Korean films and for some directors it is almost a tic. Kim Ki-duk has spilled a lot of blood over the years, sometimes justifiably because of the subject, but often over-spilling the borders of necessity. With Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... Spring (2003), a serene contemplative Buddhist film, it seemed as though Kim had a change of heart. His latest, 3-Iron, combines the two aspects of his work. It does contain much violence, often integral to the story but sometimes overplayed, yet balanced with much humour, warmth and poetry in a story as bizarre as any of his films.
The idea of a young man Tae-suk (Jae Hee) going into apartments and houses while the owners are away is not at all strange in itself, but the fact that he doesn't steal anything, that he doesn't say a word throughout the film and that he makes himself invisible as a ghost, in a sense, is singular. His partner in his enterprise, Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon), a young abused wife, only says three words throughout the film, 'I love you', at the climax. Why they don't speak is never explained, but the faces of the two remarkable actors are so expressive that it doesn't matter. In fact, it gives the film an added dimension.
Another question that remains unanswered is why the young man goes into the houses, washes the owners' underclothes by hand, and changes the settings of the scales, clocks etc. Again it doesn't matter as it provides comic relief. Strange, too, is Kim's use of a golf-ball to inflict punishment on the protagonsist's victims of revenge.The first image of the film is of a Greek statue behind a net, an image of classical beauty suddenly disrupted by the whack of a golfball, symbolic of the two sides.
That the likeable hero is meant to have our sympathy in never in question. Nevertheless, although he never commits a crime directly, it is conveniently forgotten that he causes the deaths of two women, one by a shooting and another by being hit by one of his golf-balls, both incidents getting laughter from the audience. But it is to Kim's credit that the film is directed with such elegance that he can be forgiven any lapses in morality. As for how Tae-suk becomes invisible, it has to be seen to be believed.

Ronald Bergan

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