Address Unknown Reviews
Fuck it - there's going to be spoilers here... you don't have to read any further if you want to be surprised...
The film starts off with some animal abuse - there's a lot of it throughout the film and that's probably what polarizes people so much on this movie. I've come to expect this sort of thing from Kim Ki Duk having seen his other films... the thing people don't realise is that there's much more human abuse in his films than animal abuse and yet some people react more to the animal abuse. In any case - if you don't think you could handle watching dogs strung up and beaten to death or a puppy getting slapped in the face, then just stay away. The rest of it isn't really so bad.
As for absurd - I can't really list it all, but for example - a girl is blinded in one eye by a zip gun as a kid by her brother - it appears as a glazed eye. She is ashamed, so she agrees to let this American soldier bang her and feed her drugs if he takes her to get it fixed. They do some sort of 'surgery' on it which looked like it involved a Sharpie - the next day, she can see perfectly. Then later, she stabs her eye again to keep the solider from tattooing his name on her tit and the result is the same glazed contact lens.
I don't know - it's just a bizarre film with some really impossible behavior - especially with the American "actors" which were obviously not real actors. The only American actor that did a decent job was the boyfriend - the only problem was his character was completely retarded... abusive and insane one minute, crying for his mommy the next. It was so odd... perhaps that's how Americans are seen because we are quicker to cry than Korean men.
Anyway - this film was somewhat confusing... I think this half-breed killed his stepdad and then cut his mom's tattoo off her tit and then drove his bike off a hill and froze to death/drowned in a frozen wetland. Then his mom dug him up and ate him. Most of the characters plotlines dead ended or were left open and unanswered.
Your best guess is that everyone ended up miserable or dead... and you're probably right. Really, this film hasn't got much of a point. It's interesting, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's good. People seem to either love it or hate it. I'm somewhere in the middle. It felt like 4 hours of movie, but it was just under 2. In the end, I felt like going "what the hell did I just watch?" and I watch all of the most odd films I can get my hands on. This one was just... I don't know. I don't feel like I wasted my time watching it, but I also don't feel like I got anything out of it.
I was reminded of Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou (1990) by Chang-guk's (Yang Dong-geun) plotline. Chang-guk's bitterness over his origins and his violent assailments directed toward his mother and others evoked Tianbai. Despite positive reviews, however, I didn't like Ju Dou either. Like Ju Dou, I failed to see any entertainment value in Address Unknown, and a film without entertainment value is a film without value. Even the acting is questionable when it comes to the numerous Americans in this film, none of whom could act if their lives depended on it, including the American soldier (Mitch Malem) who takes an interest in Eunok (Ban Min-jeong), but it wouldn't be the last time Korean cinema would employ untalented Western "actors" (e.g., Please Teach Me English , Welcome to Dongmakgol , and The Host ). I sometimes wonder if they just grab South Korea expatriates off the street for some of these Western roles.
Address Unknown, though bad, still beats some of the other stuff I've watched of late, including Breath (2007), but it's absolutely not the Kim Ki-duk masterpiece I've been looking for ever since The Isle (2000) blew me away. If you want a film that will make you feel absolutely miserable, however, there's no safer bet than Address Unknown.
This one is probably for Kim Ki-Duk completists only. It is a remarkable film in its relentless presentation of pain. Every single scene in this 2 hour film involves pain, emotional or physical.
An American soldier pays for the surgery so a young Korean girl can regain the sight in her impotent, freaky-looking right eye and then wants her to be his sweetheart in return, wink-wink. When she shows a little interest in the Korean boy who liked her just the way she was before the surgery, the American becomes incredulous and tries to hurt her, but before he can she pokes her own eye out to erase her debt to the soldier. Meanwhile, the Korean boy who liked her just the way she was schemes to kill the two Korean boys who have been stealing his money and beating him up. When the girl looks freaky again and goes to express her love to the Korean boy, she finds him in jail for shooting the American soldier in the genitals with a bow and arrow.
That's only one of the subplots. I've seen a lot of films about pain and despair but none that have been so oppressively constant in their execution. This is a great film by one of the great contemporary directors but you need to be ready for it or you may be repulsed. It's not slasher film gross at all. The really dirty stuff, like hanging dogs from a tree and beating them to death with a baseball bat, is done off camera.
[b][i]Address Unknown[/i][/b] >> Odd. There are scenes in this film that I've never seen before in movies. It's not explicit but mostly suggestive. It's a pretty good film about how the Korean War effected the lives of these people.
[i][b]Hard Candy[/b][/i] >> Taut and suspenseful. I love the acting and the way you keep jumping back and forth between each character and who you feel is the "bad guy." For a film that could have been very generic, this was quite surprising and entertaining.