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3 Iron (KOREA 2004)


Director : Kim Ki Duk
Cast : Seung-yeon Lee, Hyun-kyoon Lee, Hyuk-ho Kwon, Jin-mo Ju and Jeong-ho Cohi.

A young man breaks into empty homes to partake of the vacationing residents’ lives for a few days.

by Edward Tang

I’m a fairly simple man in this big, big world. Along with being a simple person with simple goals and feelings, I like simple movies. Sure, give or take, I’ll take in a few art pictures here and there, but I usually enjoy seeing people get destroyed by a sawn-off shotgun after falling out of a helicopter with a key of cocaine. Call me old fashioned but that’s how I usually like my movies. But if that same sawn-off shotgun can be turned into a interesting story and I’m all for that as well. Considering what I like, 3-Iron was the last film I was ever thinking of taking a look at. Granted, I enjoyed the Kim Ki Duk’s work in the past (Bad Guy mainly) so it wasn’t going to be a new journey for my simple eyes, but the buzz and general synopsis of the film seemed to be something that I wouldn’t enjoy. Hell, his other work in the past has been beautifully shot but had something nasty involved that could tickle my fancy. But 3-Iron has none of that: no nasty violence, no weird imagery, and no true bad people involved. Alas, my mountain of kickassery seemed to be turned into a molehill as I actually enjoyed this film! What succeeds is the painting of the film and how successful the main characters don’t have to speak at all to each other, but we’ll buy into their love affair. What we have here is a more or less censored version of the director’s previous work but still an overall better achievement from giving us a film that never truly gets annoying or so forth.

The story is crafted by direction and nothing else. There isn’t a bunch of wasted dialog that tries to explain the story, we just watch and take everything as it comes along. Now I don’t think you can find many directors today who can successfully pull that off. But he does, and gives us an interesting story with interesting characters. Also this film doesn’t have to rely on wasteful attempts at explaining why the main character breaks into homes and does what he does. I think that alone makes his actions more interesting and shows the greatness that the director provides. The film itself has a few moments that made me laugh out loud. The main character (some dude who will probably remain nameless in my head) has quirks about him that made me irritated. I kept saying to myself if I caught this guy in my house, I’d kick his f*ckin’ ass all over the place and guess what? The guy gets his ass handed to him! Then we get to him going to parks and hitting golf balls. That got annoying, so what happens? He smashes this chick in the face with it! Oh man, those moments were great. But that’s the story in a nutshell, there are so many little moments of the film that are brought to life because the director knows his shit.

Along with the story, the two main characters themselves never speak a word to each other, which would spell doom to many projects over here in the US because frankly Keanu Reeves and Jessica Alba can’t convince anybody of shit by just looking at each other. These two actors however can do just that by facial expression alone! That’s quite the accomplishment and helps move the story along. I also like how the director goes through so many different homes and so many different people to show how sporadic human nature truly is. Some people accept the fact that these two weirdos are in their houses, some of them call the police and so forth. Hell if I was in the movie, it would be over about half way through because I would have shot these assholes if they touched any of my stuff (My wardrobe costs 25 dollars alone!) But I like the stories that the houses tell of the certain people who live in them. The film’s pace needed a good twist and it a good concept when the two finally stumble upon something they can’t clean up, a dead body. But the character’s don’t call the police, they bury him and just continue their lives, a little bit of a somber yet effective message in those actions.

Some of the moments of the film felt a little comical and this was at the end of the film. These moments mostly included people getting smacked around by golf balls (Hey, guess what? I’m so much of an idiot, the title didn’t come to me until just now!) and my personal favorite “The invisible man.” Yeah, our main character learns how to use the art of stealth to break into houses even more effectively! It was corny but it worked, because most of the film had some odd moments that I wouldn’t agree with in real life. But it’s not like the main character wasn’t apt to such a challenge, because throughout the film he proved himself to be an intelligent guy who could fix things, make good food, and he probably did pass the sausage the right way towards the girl so everything falls into place. We end on a message with something like “Sometimes we can’t tell if life is real or a dream.” Ki-duk Kim gives us an added charm to end his film on the right note.

The smaller points all work as well, the score and the scenery are great. I think one of the more important facts of this film are the performances from the two leads. As mentioned, they both do a great job with simple movements and facial expressions which puts most actors to shame. The supporting characters are okay, the abusive husband was more or less decent, some of his actions and words seemed like something that would comes from the book written by OJ Simpson on how to be a loving partner (An OJ joke? That’s how I get down). His role was important to the story but I thought he was a little dull especially considering he had the bulk of the dialog. There wasn’t really anyone else to mention, a prison guard who was threatening the main character with harm was cool. I think it’s a nice change for Ki-Duk Kim to make a film that isn’t necessarily a film that is filled to the brim with a bunch of random images and violence that just gets plain annoying after a while. The performances from the gruesome twosome were the driving force that brought this film to the dance.

3-Iron is a great film that should be enjoyed by just about anyone out there who can take 90 minutes and just watch a film without having to over-think every little detail, you can just watch a simple film that has a lot going for it but thankfully doesn’t resort to being a weird fucking movie that has a bunch of images that just don’t do anything for the viewer. I’m surprised that I liked it and I’ll stay tuned for Ki-duk Kim’s next few films and hopefully he can deliver the goods again.

Plot : 4/5
Acting : 4/5
Entertainment : 3/5
Overall : 4/5

Notable Scenes
- The beatdown with golf balls and the final message of the film.

Buy this movie at : YesAsia – 3 Iron

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