Kim Di-duk

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The Isle Review


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The Isle is lovely to look at, in a pseudo-sophisticated way. Long, meditative wide shots of a Korean fishing ground located in some middle-of-nowhere rural community are appealing, and it's a location that hasn't been seen in many other movies. Most of The Isle is photographed in and around the fishing huts floating out in the water as a beautiful, longhaired groundskeeper (Suh Jung) tends to the piggish male fishermen. Prostituting herself out to them for a few bucks, she boats herself back and forth across the bay in steely-eyed silence.

Remaining mute throughout the film, Suh Jung has a wraithlike presence, or more appropriately comes across as a waterlogged avenging angel. When one of her johns short-changes her, she sneaks up on him late into the night (when he's in the midst of taking a dump off the side of his boat; a detail filmmaker Kim Di-Duk presents from an underwater POV shot -- thanks). Knifing her offender in the side, Suh Jung drifts away, ignoring his pleas for help. It's the slasher film as directed by Shohei Imamura, who posited his latest view on Asian culture "from the waist down" in the excellent Warm Water Under a Red Bridge.

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