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(Review originally written at 15 December 2010)

This movie was a real surprise. I knew nothing about this director, or 'old' Korean cinema, so I had no idea what to expect from this movie. I was really surprised at how incredibly well and professionally it got directed and the story got written, as if it all got done by some big Hollywood names involved, with years of experience in the business under their belt.

Everything about this movie got basically done extremely well. Asian cinema is not often known to feature the fastest pace but this movie has a very pleasant quick pace to it and still manages to build up its characters and drama as powerful and effective as any other old and much slower Asian genre attempt. This is of course for most part due to the directing approach of Ki-young Kim, that is nothing short of brilliant to be honest. There are some amazingly well set up moments in the movie, that get brought beautifully and at times even artistically to the screen.

But it's also due to the fine written story, by Ki-young Kim as well, that makes this movie such an extremely good one. It's a quite simple movie, in terms of that it doesn't feature that many characters in it and it is being set for most part at only two different locations; an house and a factory. What I foremost liked about the story was that all of the characters within it interact differently with each other and each of them have a different feeling and opinion about the other. It lets the story and all of its emotions and tension work out so very well. And this is all despite the fact that the movie just doesn't really have the most likely and convincing story in it. Or perhaps this is more due to the fact that's its about an entirely different culture, so all of the character motivations and their actions often seem like odd ones, through modern Western eyes.

The movie is being a (melo)drama but with definitely a thriller overtone to it. The movie features some classic, effective genre elements, such as a great sense of claustrophobia, a constant sense of danger and unpredictability to it all, overall desperateness and even a femme fatale.

It's also being a very well cast movie. Not only do all of the actors really let their characters work out well but they also all seem to have the right looks for their part. They are also all very distinctive looking, so you never have to worry about mixing one or two different South-Koreans up with each other, like perhaps sometimes is the case in other black & white Asian movies, in which all of the characters look alike with the same costumes and hairstyles.

One surprisingly great movie, that got beautifully and fully restored by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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