The Isle


The Isle

Critics Consensus

A compelling and oddly haunting combination of brutal and beautiful imagery.



Reviews Counted: 35

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,900


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Movie Info

Recalling both the erotic tension and the surrealist imagery of Woman of the Dunes, Kim Ki-duk's film is set near a remote lake where men come far and wide to fish on anchored rafts. Running a little bait-and-tackle shop is the earthy -- almost feral -- young lass Hee-jin (Seoh Jung), who sometimes sells herself for a price to horny fishermen. On one raft is the morose youth Hyun-shik (Kim Yu-seok), who Hee-jin has quietly taken a shine to after saving him from a suicide attempt. His ham-fisted advances are rejected, but after a second try at suicide, in which he puts fishing hooks in his mouth, she nurses him back to health. Soon, a freakily-intense relationship builds between the two in which the jealous Hee-jin starts to brutally dispatch with any competition. This film was screened at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for The Isle

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (10)

  • Spring, Summer fans should only have their appreciation of that film expanded by seeing this rougher take on similar themes.

    May 21, 2004 | Full Review…
  • Beautiful, angry and sad, with a curious sick poetry, as if the Marquis de Sade had gone in for pastel landscapes.

    Jan 31, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • There is little question that this is a serious work by an important director who has something new to say about how, in the flip-flop of courtship, we often reel in when we should be playing out.

    Jan 16, 2003 | Rating: 3/4
  • A gorgeous and grotesque Korean film by director Kim Ki-Duk, who seems torn by his artistic and exploitive impulses.

    Jan 3, 2003 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Once [Kim] begins to overplay the shock tactics and bait-and-tackle metaphors, you may decide it's too high a price to pay for a shimmering picture postcard.

    Aug 23, 2002 | Rating: 2/4

    Jan Stuart

    Top Critic
  • Daring, mesmerizing and exceedingly hard to forget.

    Aug 23, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4

Audience Reviews for The Isle

A mute woman who runs a fishing resort becomes obsessed with a suicidal fugitive hiding out in one of the floating cabins. A bizarre, perverted sadomasochistic love story in a unique setting; animal lovers may feel like boycotting this one, though.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Kim Ki-duk serves up another dark and twisted love-story themed film set on a fishing lake where a mute woman and a man with a troubled past find attraction with eachother. The movie is very picturesque and beautiful to look at at times, then we have some rather unpleasant scenes that add the disturbing quality to it all. There's a couple of very nasty moments of self-harm involving fish hooks and moments of animal cruelty - fish mutilated, a drowning finch, a dog takes a beating and a frog gets ripped apart. I wouldn't really describe this as an erotic film at all, yes there are sex scenes but they are not romantic and the majority of them are done fully clothed without any titilation. The acting was very good all round, especially by the mute woman, a little bit more background on the male character would have been nice though. But I was really hooked from the start with this one despite the slowness of it all and the very little dialogue. I enjoyed it more than "Bad Guy".

Lee ?
Lee ?

Super Reviewer

Unforgettable quotes and dialogues... No, no, wait. The movie speaks volumes through its silence... Damn it. FML that I happen to stumble upon such films these days around.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

A suicidal young man who is on the run from the police enters into an obsessive relationship with the woman who services the small fishing community in which he is hiding. The Isle is one of those "arthouse" films which relies far more on a keen visual eye and twisted sexual character study than plot and narrative momentum. It is strikingly shot, full of arresting images and visual analogies and the beautiful Jung Uh is a formidable presence, especially since she does not utter a single word for the duration of the entire film; she is somewhat reminiscent of Asami from Audition if she were a few sandwiches short of a picnic instead of the whole hamper. It also reminded me of Betty Blue for its obsessive and self destructive overtones, showing a relationship that is sado-masochistic but not in the usual gimps and bondage sense of the word. Some of the metaphors are a little clumsy and these damaged characters don't make for the most engaging protagonists but it is certainly an interesting character study that is lovely to look at.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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