Interspersed moments of tenderness and cruelty, humanity and inhumanity, beauty and pain. Beautifully structured and perfectly paced. This film quickly sheds its genre trappings and becomes something utterly transcendent--a meditation on human nature and our need to love and be loved.
Very intense emotional plot with graphic violence and erotic sex scenes. Superb camera angles of action scenes in the film. Leading male actor rarely speaks but his facial expressions and body language transmits volumes to viewer. The leading female actress outstanding and sexy. Great supporting cast. Superior direction.
Kim Ki-Duk has forged an individual film style that combines reality and unreality. Beautiful cinematography and realistic settings lead to conclusions that are always unsettling, but ultimately lead the viewer back to a reconsideration of normality.
On 2nd watch this is still mesmerizing, with an unfixed erotic energy like Sternberg, Bunuel and Lynch. It's about karma, and how once a life is touched by pain a person has to start lying to one extent or another. You have to go through hell to find both pain and honesty in life, and it breaks people, it's horrible and inevitable. So it's better to be born into pain in some ways. It makes love more real.
This crapfest is typical of a certain type of male rape fantasy. "Snooty girl rejects bad boy. Bad boy magically contrives to blackmail her into prostitution. They fall in love of course." It's not about love. It's about violence.
Stockholm Syndrome meets fairy tale romance when a poor misunderstood pimp thug kidnapper targets a young woman as his soulmate and arranges for her enslavement and violent, ongoing debasement, thereby winning her heart - and her backdated consent... and other such nonsense, in this reprehensible (and otherwise uninteresting) attempt to romanticize sexual violence, male aggression and rape culture. Gross.