3-Iron (2004)

Seung-Yun Lee, Hee Jae, Hyuk-ho Kwon, Jeong-ho Choi,
Bin-jip is a movie starring Seung-Yun Lee, Hee Jae, and Hyuk-ho Kwon. A transient young man breaks into empty homes to partake of the vacationing residents' lives for a few days.
  • 8.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Ki-duk Kim, Director:
  • Producer:
10 / 10

Try a little tenderness...

Watched it two times the past week. In a nutshell - I dare anyone to find a film that is more sober and so light and that at the same time fills you with a deep warmth an and all encompassing feeling of great tenderness. Really.

Its story is of such unbelievable simplicity that at the first sight of such a script you'd wonder how on earth it would be possible to make it into a film - or tell anything with it that goes beyond the script. Add to this the fact that any dialogue almost entirely fails to manifest itself...

But then you forget about Kim Ki-duk! If anyone was born with the eye of the cinematographic magician, it must be him. Despite the fact that I did not like The Isle at all, the photography was utterly unbelievable. Same for Spring, Summer... But then I still thought "well, anyone with reasonable skill can get a good image out of such landscapes/spaces". But none of that here - mainly indoors or in the city - just a guy spending his nights at other unknown people's places while they're away, and in turn repairs stuff and cleans/does the laundry. And STILL the images are nothing less than breathtaking. The light is superb, the framing, everything... Also the storytelling... pacing is perfect - he tells the story with images more than with events. The film actually becomes light as feather, and then lighter. Sublimation. And besides that, he manages to squeeze in some real drama and the occasional laugh. Go figure.

I'm gonna quit here, there's really nothing much more I can add. Do yourself a favour and see this inconspicuous little film that is so profoundly simple and beautiful that you'll be wanting to send me a thank you note afterwards for telling you this.

9 / 10

A beautiful movie

To me it's been obvious for quite some time now that South Korea is by far the most interesting country in Asia when it comes to film. And Asia on the other hand feels like the most interesting continent, so where does that leave us?

"Bin-Jip" (or "3-iron") is a wonderful movie. I went to see it without really knowing what to expect. I must admit that even though South Korean films appeal to me my expectations were quite low, not least because the movie was described in a way that was vague to say the least. But after watching it... it all made sense. Because how do you describe a movie like this one? It moves somewhere in the shadow-land between reality and fantasy. One of those movies that has very little plot to it but still comes across as beautifully written. And above all things it made me feel good!

The closest reference i can find to how this movie made me feel is "Lost in Translation". Don't get me wrong, the movies are not very alike. But the feeling they gave me is the same. When i watched these movies for the first time i felt like i didn't really know what i was i just saw. I only knew that i liked it and it made me feel good. A warm sensation in my gut telling me that maybe there is hope after all. Hope for what? I don't know, life maybe?

In the end the 3-iron, the golf-balls and the surface are not important. What's important is life, love and warmth. This is a beautiful movie, both on the surface and beneath it. It is also a truly unique movie experience and i don't get to say that very often. Highly recommended and definitely one of the best i've seen so far this year.

9/10

10 / 10

One of the most remarkable films ever made

Kim Ki-Duk's films portray a black world view, one by which our selfish impulses cause us to destroy each other and, ultimately, ourselves. They are driven by the central character's desire to escape this world, in their own ways eventually finding a way out of the reality that engulfs them. In Real Fiction (2000), the protagonist disappears into a day dream in which he has revenge on all those who wronged him in the past; in Spring Summer Autumn Winter... And Spring (2003), a Buddhist monk lives, literally, on an island separated from the rest of the world; any contact with the outside world results in tragedy, be it a visiting mother fleeing with her child (she drowns, though the child, gratefully, survives), or the monk's apprentice running off with a girl (he ends up murdering her and is wanted by the police); in Bad Guy, the eponymous protagonist tries to find solace through his own love fantasy; and then there is 3 Iron, Kim Ki-Duk's magnum opus and one of the most remarkable films ever made.

3 Iron seems to tie all the visual and thematic aspects of Kim's films together, neatly and impressively, making it the "ultimate" Kim Ki-Duk film, much the same way Fitzcarraldo is the "ultimate" Herzog- or North By Northwest was the "ultimate" Hitchcock film. Like every Kim Ki-Duk film, the protagonist is a rank outsider from mainstream society. Like Bad Guy, the character plays his part almost entirely mute (and on this note, both Jo Jae-hyeon's and Lee Hyun-kyoon's performances have to be utterly applauded for being both wonderfully subtle and yet so forcefully expressive). Once again, we are faced with a latent dual reality, where the protagonist escapes the world around him, but is also brutally dragged back into it. Like Bad Guy, 3 Iron is a strange love story, albeit a far more assuasive one, where both the characters decide to disappear into "their own world".

However, 3 Iron defies explanation. Can you imagine trying to pitch this to a Hollywood producer? "Ok, there's this guy and he, like, breaks into people's houses. He washes their clothes, dishes, bathrooms -.. he even wears their clothes, sleeps in their beds, and repairs stuff for them, like clocks or broken toy guns (with hilarious consequences in the latter's case!). One day he breaks into a house, thinking he's alone, but meets an abused wife. When her husband returns, he proceeds to attack the old philanderer in a very original way (which neatly ties in with the title of the film... you'll see) and she runs off with him. They then enter "his" world and live "his" life together, breaking into houses, etc, before they get dragged back into the real world with all the pain and suffering it brings". Yeah! That'll really get the 18-25 demographic rolling down the aisles! Chances are I would have been kicked out midway through the second sentence, though if I'm really honest I wouldn't actually mind trying to pitch this to Don Simpson, just to see the reaction on his face.

But it really would be doing this movie little justice to try and "summarise" it in some neat little way. It needs to be watched, it needs to be experienced, like all the great movies. There is no real "idea" in this film, necessarily, nor is there a big "statement" of sorts - Kim Ki-Duk is not a "statement" film-maker like Godard or Eisenstein. Rather, like Lynch, he prefers to make films that work on an instinctive level, in that they draw a gut emotional reaction from you that cannot necessarily be articulated or expressed in an intellectual manner. Is it any coincidence, then, that Kim, like Lynch, primarily hails from a painting background, and actually wanted to be a painter before he became a film-maker?

Paintings are an apt analogy, since every frame is clearly carefully and thoughtfully choreographed (characters are either separated (in both the physical and emotional sense) by vertical-, or they are united by horizontal lines). But putting aside any visual- and textual comparisons to Lynch, Kim Ki-Duk also draws a lot from Wong Kar Wai in terms of narrative, and anyone who has seen Chungking Express should notice comparisons to 3 Iron in that both concentrate on a character who breaks into someone else's house/flat and lives their life without them noticing, or how one song is ceaselessly repeated to emphasise both the love between the two central characters and, furthermore, the characters' wish to escape reality (though 3 Iron does so more on a less literal level, as I mentioned before) - in Chungking Express, it was California Dreamin' (a song that will never be the same for me after that film, and I suspect a lot of people feel this way), while in 3 Iron it's "Gafsa" by Natasha Atlas.

Still, I suppose I can conceptualise and intellectualise to my heart's content - somehow I doubt that any of this will spur you to watch this movie. But I think it should. This film deserves to be seen. It's a tender, thought-provoking, and ultimately (and quite strangely) heart-warming film, as well as, quite possibly. an indication that Kim Ki-Duk is slowly coming of an age as a film-maker, moving on from an entirely pessimistic worldview to one that is more reassuring and serene. Yes, there is suffering and darkness, but there is also hope, and I think, this, ultimately is what 3 Iron is trying to tell us. It is, in short, utterly required viewing, not to mention the work of a true genius. And it's really not very often I bandy this word about.

7 / 10

Reality and Dream

The lonely and silent rider Tae-suk (Hee Jae) breaks in empty houses and lives a normal life while the owners are traveling. He does not steal anything and moves from house to house without any loss other than food, and he cleans the houses, provides small repairs or washes some clothes to retribute the hospitality.

When he enters in the house of Sun-hwa (Seung-yeon Lee), he does not see the woman that is wounded in her room after being beaten up on by her abusive husband Min-gyu Lee (Hyuk-ho Kwon). Tae-suk helps the hurt woman and when Min-gyu returns, he hits the husband with golf balls and Sun-hwa leaves her husband with Tae-suk in his motorcycle.

When they break in the house of an old man, they find that the man is dead and Tae-suk provides funeral service for him. However, his son returns and Tae-suk and Sun-hwa are arrested by two abusive police detectives. He is sent to prison and Sun-hwa is forced to return home. But she never forgets him.

"Bin-jip" is a subtle film about a lonely drifter and an abused wife that finds love, empathy and human warmth with him. The story is open to interpretation and here is mine (it is a spoiler – therefore if you have not watched the film yet, do not read):

Tae-suk is murdered by the prison guards when he leaves his cell, and Min-gyu Lee receives a phone call from the police telling that the youngster had been released as a sort of justification for his disappearance. Sun-hwa lives with the "ghost" of the free-spirited Tae-suk as a way to help her to survive to his marriage life.

Maybe I am too simplistic, but that is the way that I have understood this pleasant film. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Casa Vazia" ("Empty House")

10 / 10

A deep beautiful story of reality and illusion

Ki-duk Kim has written and directed an outstanding film about a homeless, but creative individual who breaks into houses for a place to eat, sleep, and clean himself up. While there, he fixes anything that is broken, does the laundry, and makes sure he cleans up after himself.

He breaks into a house that he thinks is empty and finds an abused woman. What transpires is one of the most tender and beautiful films I have ever seen. I would not spoil it by revealing any of the plot as this is one you definitely have to see.

If Ki-duk Kim can write a love story this incredible, I certainly want to see his action films.