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87 minutes | Rated: R
LIMITED: Friday, May 6, 2005
Written & directed by Kim Ki-Duk
Starring Lee Seung-yeon, Jae Hee, Gweon Hyeok-ho, Ju Jin-mo, Choi Jeong-ho
Clever squatter's luck and love spiral out of control when he saves docile wife from abusive husband in '3-Iron'
At turns strange, tragic, poignant, chilling and sweet -- and for all practical purposes a silent film -- "3-Iron" is an alluring romantic drama about a resourceful squatter in Seoul, South Korea, who finds empty houses to crash in by blanketing neighborhoods with pizza-delivery flyers.
When Tae-suk (Jae Hee) returns to these areas at night, he breaks into the houses where flyers remain, assuming the owners are away. He'll sleep in their beds, eat food from their refrigerators and take souvenir photos of himself posing next to family portraits -- but in exchange he does loads of laundry or fixes broken clocks.
But his curious subsistence takes an unexpected turn when he's caught sneaking around a wealthy home by the docile, abused young wife (Lee Seung-yeon) of a temperamental businessman -- and within hours feels compelled to save the girl (by wielding the titular golf club) when her husband returns home in a rage.
An instant bond forms between these misfits as Tae-suk takes Sun-hwa (Lee) under his wing, and she quickly embraces his vagabond lifestyle. Yet as they move from house to house on his motorcycle, an imbalance takes hold in Tae-suk's string of luck, begetting a spiral of misfortune with huge ramifications.
Written and directed by Kim Ki-Duk (of this year's controversial "Bad Guy," and 2004's highly praised "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring"), "3-Iron" touches upon themes of loneliness, helplessness, aimlessness, coincidence, self-worth and hope as it grows more odd and absorbing with twists of fate and uncanny character developments that lead in unexpected directions.
Remarkably, Kim brings this story vividly to life with almost no dialogue. Jae and Lee give captivating, longing performances without uttering a single word until two laconic lines of dialogue in the closing minutes. It's a narrative choice that leaves you hanging on their every glance and gesture, and it makes the imaginative "3-Iron" all the more memorable.