3-Iron (2004) / Drama-Romance
aka Bin-jip

MPAA Rated: R for sexual content
Running Time: 88 min.

Cast: Lee Seung-yeon, Hee Jae (Lee Hyun-kyoon), Kwon Hyuk-ko
Director: Kim Ki-duk
Screenplay: Kim Ki-duk

Review published December 22, 2004

Reportedly made in a small amount of time for such an acclaimed film (less than two months from conception to final cut), 3-Iron shows just how truly talented a filmmaker Kim Ki-duk (Samaritan Girl, Spring Summer Fall Winter...and Spring) can be.  If he could do six movies a year of this quality, he might have a chance to virtually corner the top 5 lists of critics all over the world, and probably have the sixth as honorable mention.

Hee Jae stars as a young man that regularly breaks into vacationing peoples homes in order to live in for at least a few hours, although he doesn't really do it for theft.  He just likes to spend time there, and in return for the owners' involuntary hospitality, he makes it a slightly better place than when he came in, fixing things that need it or washing their dirty laundry.  One day he breaks into a home but doesn't realize the lady of the house is still home.  A victim of spousal abuse, she watches the younger man with curiosity, but soon the two meet and become friends, even though neither of them speak a word to one another.  Soon, they escape together and become partners in his little game, but the husband isn't going to let his "kidnapped" wife get away.

As with the other films by Kim Ki-duk, metaphors abound throughout the film, with symbolism and thematic motifs that occur time and again to form a bit of a puzzle to solve beneath the straight-forward narrative.  It's never very realistic, so one must take into account the artistic side of things before entering into this very subtle and quiet piece that ironically scores its biggest points through the smallest details. 

Sure, the story is farfetched, but rewards are fully reaped by Ki-duk's insights into his characters and the brilliance by which he develops his plot into something truly meaningful.  3-Iron may not be Ki-duk's best work, although some will certainly argue as to its right to claim the honor, but it is definitely as refreshing and engaging as just about anything out there these days.   It's quite possibly the most accessible of his films, so if you haven't been treated to the artistic styling of Kim Ki-duk, watch this one first and become a fan.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo