Brutal and nihilistic story matched by Jo Yeong-Jik's cinematography; there will be no gauze for these wounds and no moral buffer for the viewer. If you like happy endings, stay away from this one. I almost turned it off during the scene with the guitar and the expectant father; as it happens, the story turns at this point. Two stars primarily for the expert performance of Cho Min-Soo as the moody, mysterious mother.
Both stomach-turning and hypnotic, Kim Ki-Duk's controversial masterwork manages to provide a portal into one of the most vile central characters I've even seen onscreen and showcase how alienation and desperation have shaped his character. Money is meaningless to this loan shark; soothing his pain is everything. Great shot selection and editing make this a film much appreciated even as it is hard to love.
The lengths one may go to to seek justice or revenge in the name of what they think is right may ultimately turn them into the same thing they're fighting against. The mother is no saint; very few characters in this film are redeemable. Yet, you feel bad for every one of them. The ugly realities of power without conscience, and the twisted logic of the weak during desperate times blanket a story about lost childhood.
A film with a plot too heavy for the shoulders of the filmmakers. The plot itself has the potential to really grab an audience as anyone with a mother could probably find a way to relate to this, but the execution was poor. The direction felt unnatural and a lot of the action/violent scenes felt shoehorned in. The premise is a good idea, but there was nothing else to make me care about much about the characters.