June 18, 2011

Kim Ki-Duk's Best Movies

Is it a top ten list when you've only seen eleven movies? A valid question. But I guess I'm cheating a little because I'm thinking of this list as a dynamic one which will eventually contain all good movies once I've seen some more of Kim Ki-duk's films. For now, I admit movies nine and ten kind of suck — watchable but preposterous. I'm actually really curious to learn which of Kim's films you like best too so please let me know in the comments section below. Thanks!

1. Bad Guy (2001): This creepily welcome antidote to Pretty Woman is one of the most disturbed love stories about a pimp and a hooker that you'll ever see. A really compelling mind-bender.
2. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003): A Buddhist monk's coming-of-age is complicated by sex. Who can't relate to that? A beautifully told tale of how knowledge changes as we age.
3. The Isle (2000): Love really is an extreme state when you think about it but the quiet, pragmatic prostitute at this lakeside vacation resort takes her expression of devotion to a "oh, no she didn't" extreme that you'll likely never forget.
4. Time (2006): How much of who we are is what we look like and would we have the same relationships with people if we suddenly looked completely different? Kim explores the topic thoroughly with the help of plastic surgery.
5. The Bow (2005): Sure, it ends violently but this summer-winter romance between an old fisherman and the orphan girl he adopts (and trains) is probably Kim at his most gently philosophical.
6. Breath (2007): Probably as close as Kim will come to making a musical, this one's about an affair that blossoms between a killer in jail and a sculptor who becomes a performance artist.
7. 3-Iron (2004): The silent character is a signature of Kim's film and here he gives us two. The doubled symbol heightens Kim's idea that the most important things in life aren't expressed in dialogue and lessens the dramatic tension. A fair trade.
8. Samaritan Girl (2004): "Love thy enemy" gets a new spin when a young woman decides to screw then refund all the johns her best friend tricked with before she jumped out a window and died. Strangely enjoyable.
9. Address Unknown: (2001): Kim at his zaniest presents three lost souls skirting with tragedy in the hinterlands as they attempt to bond with each other only to self-destruct. Funny, though unintentionally so.
10. The Coast Guard (2002): In this implausible drama, a horny young woman and a gung-ho soldier slide into madness side by slippery side. When Kim doesn't deliver a great revelation, the violence in his films feels mean. Case in point.

Also by Kim
Real Friction (2001): This early effort from Kim — about a performance artist whose medium is murder — feels like a first film because it's overflowing with ideas immaturely explored.


  1. This is a great list of movies.

  2. I've only seen Samaritan Girl and 3 Iron (which I really like). Thanks for the list,

  3. I love the top three especially!