But normally we appreciate the grace of the movements in a dance in large part because we appreciate the ability of the performer to produce those movements in such a precise, delightful manner. In the case of this movie, however, it's not clear who the performer is supposed to be. Is it the main characters, or is it the film itself (i.e. the camera work)? (Perhaps both?) In any case, neither impresses me very much.
In summary, if you want to see a film that is like a ballet, there's a chance you might like this film. But if you, like me, are more interested in the content, the story, the ideas, than the presentation, you won't like it.
The plot focuses on a man named Tae-suk, who breaks into people's home to stay for the night, rather than to steal stuff. Not only does he stay in these homes, but if he finds something broken, he will also fix it as a thank you to his unknowing innkeepers.
One day, he breaks into a mansion which he believes to be empty, but it turns out not to be empty. As he goes about his routine, he is watched by a woman named Sun-hwa, a battered wife trapped in a horrible marriage who is harassed by her husband over phone messages.
Once Tae-suk realizes he is not home alone, he pretends to leave the home, but in reality hides in the backyard, waiting for Sun-hwa's abusive husband to come home. When he does, and he immediately begins abusing his wife, Tae-suk attacks him by hitting golf balls at him with a golf club.
When he leaves, Sun-hwa decides to join him despite knowing nothing about him and participates and immerses herself in his bizarre routines of breaking into homes and fixing items. Despite some minor scrapes with the occupants of an apartment, things seem to go okay for a little while until they break into the apartment of a dead man.
Upon finding the dead man, the couple buries him, but since the dead man's relatives haven't heard from him for days, two relatives stop by the apartment and call the police on the couple, and they are arrested on suspicion of murder. Sun-hwa is sent back to her husband, but Tae-suk is held in custody for burglary and other charges (After it is determined the dead man wasn't murdered, but died of lung cancer), and with the money funded by Sun-hwa's husband, the authorities keep Tae-suk behind bars.
Despite imprisonment, Tae-suk attempts to find a way to get back to Sun-hwa, and proves that sometimes, not even in the walls of a prison can keep people apart.
The story is very interesting, and as this is a Kim Ki-Duk film, it is deceptively simple on the surface, but offers a great deal more to the viewer should they choose to explore it, including the mysterious elements that accompany his films. The characters, while they rarely speak to one another, feel richly developed and intriguing, despite the viewers knowing so little about them. The story was always fascinating, no matter where it went, and it's easily among the best romance films I've ever seen because of its compelling story and more.
The acting is also pretty damn good, especially as the actors are mostly forced to rely on expressions and actions, rather than dialogue. This is another usual trademark of the director, and once again, he gets the actors to pull off a feat that many directors would never be able to get the actors to do. Even in silence, the actors pull off amazing and compelling performances that made it difficult to look away from the screen.
3-Iron is a film well worth watching if you love a good romance film or a good unusual film. It's certainly unlike anything you'll ever see, and it pulls off its quirky premise with ease. It's a strange, compelling, and engaging romance film, and yet another triumph for Kim Ki-Duk.