I experienced Moebius as a pretty intense drama, a downwards spiral invoked by a family acting purely on their urges and instincts.
Breath is a strong entry in Ki-duk's ever growing list of films, positioning itself among his best work.
3-Iron is a silent journey, following two characters who don't talk to each other directly, but understand each other's feelings all too well. To be a witness to that feels like something special.
The Bow is a pretty logical evolution in Ki-duk's career. It includes many of the themes and stylistic choices from his older films while still lacking the slick execution of his newer ones.
Pieta is a pretty complete package. The film looks great, has a superb soundtrack, two extremely impressive leads and a boatload of symbolism for those who enjoy that kind of thing.
Since Bin-Jip, only Shi Gan was a small disappointment. Apart from that one, Ki-duk seems to be on a roll with a string of near-masterpieces almost uncontested by any other director.
The good stuff
Vintage Ki-duk. That means a mature and warm drama with some raw and dark edges and a healthy dose of non-verbal communication. The acting is superb, the plot is intriguing and the soundtrack on point. Not Ki-duk's most visually impressive film, but apart from that an amazing film that is equal amounts of warm drama and punch in the gut.
Ki-duk's breakthrough film may have aged gracefully, it has aged nonetheless. While not his best work, the intrigue and poetry mixed with ruthless characters and dark emotions would come to define the rest of his career, and that appeal is still very much there. The Isle is the perfect introduction for those who want to dig into Ki-duk's oeuvre.
Kim Ki-duk reinventing himself. Human, Space, Time and Human isn't a typical character drama, instead it's a violent allegory not quite unlike Aronofsky's Mother! Raw, unflinching and dark, but also intriguing, powerful and one of a kind. No doubt one of his most divisive films, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
Ki-duk takes on both Koreas. And of course he doesn't pull any punches, but that's par for the course. There's slightly less attention for the characters, instead Ki-duk has a point to drive home, which at times stands in the way of the drama. But he's a skilled director and there's plenty to like here, though it doesn't quite compare with his best work.
One of Ki-duk's harder to find films. Like most of his post Arirang work, One on One is quite violent and dark, though never gratuitous or without a more contemplative side. I appreciate both eras in Ki-duk's oeuvre, the reason why this one didn't pan out to be a full-on favorite is because of its narrative focus and its somewhat repetitive nature.
A group of vigilantes is hunting down soldiers who were involved in the execution of a young woman. They followed orders, but it's clear they were saving someone's hide rather than act to protect the country. The vigilantes want every soldier to sign a confession, and they want to find out who gave the order for the kill.
There's quite a few soldiers to go through though and the crux of the film is revealed early on, so after a while the torture scenes do get a little repetitive. They also take time away from the character development, which is probably why the ending was as intense as it was supposed to be. It's still an interesting film with more than enough to chew on, it just isn't quite up to Ki-duk's usual standard.