On the heels of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, Korean director Kim Ki-Duk crafts another nearly silent tale, 3-Iron, this one set in the a more urban area. Tae Suk (Jae Hee) wanders the city by day, posting flyers on the doors of various houses. He returns later to see if the flyers are still there. If they are, chances are the people inside are on vacation. Tae enters the house, fixes himself a meal, and takes a shower. His intentions are a lot more ambiguous. He steals nothing; the only thing missing is the food he ate. Afterward, he will clean the house/apartment, wash any clothes by hand, and even repair things like scales, clocks, and stereos. Tae leaves, and it feels like he was never there.

3-Iron is about identity and the search for meaning. Is Tae really 'real?' He lives in other peoples' houses when they are away, but leaves when they return. As far as they can tell, nobody was ever there. The fact that he has no dialogue for the entire film causes him to feel more like a ghost (sometimes literally) than a person. Few people notice him. Kim (The Coast Guard) never explains why Tae does what he does. Things become complicated when Tae breaks into a large house, only to find Sun-Hwa (Lee Seung-Yeon, Again, Saturday, 2:00PM). Sun-Hwa watches as Tae goes through his little rituals. Her husband beats her, and she decide to leave with Tae. The two form a relationship of sorts, each doing their part to survive yet unnoticed.

Again, there is nearly no dialogue from both Jae and Lee. Still, 3-Iron never even approaches the level of boring. Kim's slow camera shots and paced actions are hypnotic. These two people feel so comfortable together that there is no need for words. Everything that passes between them is perfectly clear to both each other and the audience. This film is not a visually stunning as Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, but that's only because it takes place in houses instead of a scenic lake. There is something profoundly sad about the way that Tae-suk goes about his ways until Sun-Hwa arrives. Once she's there, they reach a kind of mutual understanding. Each person has their role to do, and they perform it in silent harmony.

Sun-hwa's husband Min-Kyu (Kwon Hyuk-Ho) is not happy about the fact that she is gone, and is doing what he can to bring her back. He harbors a lot of anger towards Tae, who used Min's own 3-iron (according to Kim, the least used and 'loneliest' club) to drive balls into him. Min's loud accusations and spiteful remarks towards Sun-Hwa really break the tranquility of Kim's movie, making them seem more menacing. Sun-Hwa has found a place where she can be happy, and Min's eventual reemergence shatters this happiness. By this time, Tae and Sun-Hwa are deeply in love, and he vows to do what he can to ensure her happiness.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Korean with English subtitles, Rated R for some sexual content.

Back to Movies