At South Korea’s border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking youths jeer them. Two nights later, Kang follows orders, opening fire at a person who has infiltrated the border zone. It proves to be a young man, one from the earlier encounter, on a drunken tryst with his girlfriend, Mi-yeong. Kang is commended, yet horrified. Mi-yeong is unhinged. Kim tries to hold onto friendship, duty, and his humanity. While Kang retreats into bizarre behavior and violence, Mi-yeong becomes easy prey to soldiers. Sickness is all. —IMDb
One of the most controversial Korean directors, Kim Ki-duk is a self-taught filmmaker who prides himself on his outsider status, openly setting himself apart from contemporaries like Hong Sang-soo and Lee Chang-dong, who he considers too intellectual. Kim’s films have drawn vitriol for their subject matter and praise for their technique, and he has often been compared to his predecessor Kim Ki-young, who was also self-taught and whose films bear a much less brutal, but equally eccentric, personal stamp. Born in a mountainous village, Kim moved with his family to Seoul at the age of nine. During his teenage years he dropped out of school and worked in factories, and at the age of 20, he began a five-year stint in the marines, the toughest and most demanding branch of the Korean military. These early experiences would inspire the gritty milieu and dim view of human relationships that characterize his films. A painter since childhood, Kim went to France in 1990, where he studied art and… read more
It was so hard for me to admit that this wasn't great as it is Kim Ki Duk (whom I'd name is as my favorite director/writer today if I had to pick one). Was just way too heavy handed. But I admire the intention. And there were little flashes of the Kim Ki Duk that I love throughout. Everyone has their misfires, I suppose. :\
I liked the way the director dealt with two very interesting issues in this film. Firstly, the theme of the invisible enemy,a theme the Italian writer Dino Buzzati developed in THE TARTAR STEPPE for instance, that allowed Kim Ki-duk to describe the reactions of a company of men under constant stress ; an ironic and tragic description. I also admire how the director showed us the slow descent into madness of Private Kang ; it reminded me of the destiny of another man who couldn't bear his guiltiness: Oedipus. Highly recommended.