films seen
23/25
average score
3.76*
nationality
South Korea - 59 years old
status
R.I.P. (1960 - 2020)
more info

The ultimate black sheep of South-Korean cinema. Kim's dramas are raw, confrontational and personal, but never without heart. While his oeuvre is quite consistent, a rough, personal breakdown has spliced it into two very distinctive parts.

Rare treats

Moebius

Moi-bi-woo-seu
2013 / 90m - South Korea
Drama
Moebius poster

I experienced Moebius as an extremely intense drama, a strict downwards spiral invoked by a family acting purely on their urges and instincts.

Breath

Soom
2007 / 84m - South Korea
Drama, Romance
Breath poster

A truly awesome film. Breath may not really my preferred kind of cinema and because of that Ki-duk's accomplishment is all the more impressive, for making me love this film and its characters.

3-Iron

Bin-jip
2004 / 88m - South Korea
Drama, Romance
3-Iron poster

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

Hwal
2005 / 90m - South Korea
Drama
The Bow poster

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.

Dream

Bi-Mong
2008 / 95m - South Korea
Drama, Mystery
Dream poster

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.

Pieta

2012 / 104m - South Korea
Drama
Pieta poster

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.

The good stuff

Time

Shi Gan
2006 / 97m - South Korea
Drama, Romance, Mystery
4.0*/5.0*
Time poster

Address Unknown

Suchwiin Bulmyeong
2001 / 117m - South Korea
Drama, War
4.0*/5.0*
Address Unknown poster

Wild Animals

Yasaeng Dongmul Bohoguyeog
1996 / 105m - South Korea
Comedy, Drama, Crime
4.0*/5.0*
Wild Animals poster

Human, Space, Time and Human

Inkan, Gongkan, Sikan Grigo Inkan
2018 / 122m - South Korea
Horror, Mystery
Human, Space, Time and Human poster

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.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom
2003 / 103m - South Korea
Drama
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring poster

One of Ki-duk's most accessible works. The film is devoid of his usual misanthropy and is presented as a peaceful, meditative experience. A stunning setting, a subtle but majestic score and easily relatable themes ease you in and make this a pleasant watch. The film does not eschew the darker corners of human behavior, but handles them with dignity and respect. Recommended for people who want to get acquainted with Ki-duk's oeuvre.

The Isle

Seom
2000 / 90m - South Korea
Drama
The Isle poster

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.

Samaritan Girl

Samaria
2004 / 95m - South Korea
Drama
Samaritan Girl poster

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.

Solid pieces

The Net

Geumul
2016 / 114m - South Korea
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
The Net poster

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 on One

Il-dae-i
2014 / 122m - South Korea
Thriller, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
One on One poster

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.

Read all

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.

Arirang

2011 / 100m - South Korea
Drama, Documentary
3.5*/5.0*
Arirang poster

The Coast Guard

Hae Anseon
2002 / 91m - South Korea
Drama, Action, War
3.5*/5.0*
The Coast Guard poster

Bad Guy

Nabbeun Namja
2001 / 100m - South Korea
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Bad Guy poster

Strong and enigmatic drama, but not quite as overpowering as the last time I watched it. The actors do a great job and the characters are intriguing, but the score isn't as effective and visually it's a bit dim. Definitely not a bad film and there are some superb scenes here, but overall not the masterpiece I remembered it to be.

Real Fiction

Shilje Sanghwang
2000 / 69m - South Korea
Drama, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Real Fiction poster

Birdcage Inn

Paran Daemun
1998 / 105m - South Korea
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Birdcage Inn poster

The inoffensive

Amen

2011 / 72m - South Korea
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Amen poster

Crocodile

Ag-o
1996 / 102m - South Korea
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Crocodile poster

Big nopes