Tae-suk is a young man who breaks into people’s home while they are away. He lives there in their absence, but doesn’t steal anything, and fixes odds and ends while he’s there. During one such break-in, it turns out that owner’s wife is there, and a love affair begins between the two. When the abusive husband returns, Tae-suk winds up killing him with the title instrument, and the lovers flee.
Director Kim Ki-duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring) is a storyteller …f remarkable versatility (his films, and this is no exception, can shift from pictorial beauty to quiet humour to brutal violence in the blink of an eye and without doing any violence to the integrity of the tale), but one should also note how remarkable his visual narrative gifts are. This film is a prime example. Almost a quarter of an hour goes by before there is the first (quite rare) line of dialogue, and the silence never weighs heavily (the protagonist never speaks). The storytelling is economical, precise, understated, moving and witty. If you haven’t seen any films by this remarkable director yet, don’t hesitate to correct this omission.
The audio is low key, but, generally speaking, very effective. Some of the placement could use a bit more work. For instance, an early scene that has the hero’s motorcycle arriving from the rear should have had some separation between the rear speakers. But this isn’t a huge problem. The background noises of the city are almost subliminal, but just loud enough to be convincing. The dialogue is clear and undistorted (and despite my earlier comments, there is dialogue, though not much).
The picture is a treat. The colours, especially, are gorgeous — vibrant without being artificial in the least. The flesh tones are very real, too, and the blacks and contrasts are nothing short of superb. There is no edge enhancement or grain, and the aspect ratio is a full 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is one great-looking DVD. The film looks wonderful, and the transfer is a pleasure to gaze at as well.
Other than some nine trailers, the only extra is the subtitled commentary by the director. He is very informative, and this is one of the first times he has done a commentary, making this track all the more welcome. The menu is basic.
Not a hugely generous set of extras, but valuable all the same, and the transfer is excellent.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary