Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
South Korea, 2012. Good Film, Finecut, Kim Ki-Duk Film. Screenplay by Ki-duk Kim. Cinematography by Young-jik Jo. Produced by Kim Soon-Mo. Music by In-young Park. Production Design by Hyun-joo Lee. Costume Design by Ji-yeon Ji. Film Editing by Ki-duk Kim. Toronto International Film Festival 2012.
Gang-do is a hired goon who goes around breaking limbs when borrowers cannot pay back what they owe his loan shark boss, crippling them and using their insurance claim money as compensation for their dues (that also include massive interest rates). He plies his trade without the slightest regret or compassion, his impassive gaze and cold emotional state perfectly intact until he is visited by a beautiful woman with a devastating revelation: she is Gang-do’s mother who abandoned him as a child and considers herself responsible for the way he has turned out. At first resisting the intrusion of this glamorously dressed and made up woman who seems like a character from fiction come to life, Gang-do eventually grows to love her and spends his free moments making up for lost time, even bringing her with him on his assignments, and discovering a new dimension of sympathy for those he has harmed in the name of cash. Then director Kim Ki-duk starts springing more surprises on you, and the themes of penance and forgiveness that we thought rested solely on the mother character achieve new dimensions and have devastating results. Restrained but bold direction and sharp acting make for a film that hits you like a tightly focused hammer right through to the unforgettable final shots.