After the delightful Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter -¦ And Spring seduced Sydney audiences last year, it’s a pleasure to see Kim Ki-duk’s 3-Iron in distribution in Australia.
Winner of the FIPRESCI Film of the Year, as well as the Little Golden Lion and the Special Director’s Award at the Venice Film Festival, 3-Iron brings us the life of an outsider attempting to live freely in a world that would rather keep to itself.
One of South Korea’s leading directors, the acclaimed Kim Ki-duk is seriously prolific. He wrote the screenplay for 3-Iron in a month, shot the film in 16 days and edited it in 10.
This cracking pace means Ki-duk has been cranking out a film a year. In fact, his most recent work, Time, is already making its way around the international film festival circuit.
Ki-duk has an incredible eye for capturing the surprising intensity in mundane, everyday behaviour. His central character in 3-Iron, Tae-suk (Hee Jae), never even speaks, heightening all of his actions.
Tae-suk’s a drifter who puts up flyers over the keyholes of all kinds of residences.
The doors that still have the flyers there some time later are entered and Tae-suk squats in the empty homes until the owners return from their holidays and business trips.
There’s an Am?e vibe about the way he goes about things, watering their plants, scrubbing and hanging out their washing and fixing at least one broken gadget from every vacant house he occupies.
Not nearly as sumptuous as Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter -¦ And Spring, 3-Iron still gives us a sensuous sense of the spaces and home decorations that Tae-Suk walks into as he relaxes into the rituals their various furniture and appliances afford him.
Once he mistakenly enters an occupied house. The woman inside, Sun-hwa (Seung-yeon Lee) quietly spies on him and a silent, curious romance slowly begins between them.
To the golf-savvy, the 3-iron is known as the least used club in the bag, mostly left unattended to. It’s this golf club that Tae-suk takes from the collection of Sun-hwa’s abusive husband Min-gyu (Hyuk-ho Kwon).
He uses it to drive Min-gyu’s own golf balls at him, getting him in the guts (and probably in the balls too) before heading off on his motorcycle with Sun-hwa behind him.
Golf balls are the most dangerous weapons in this film, utilised for revenge and counter revenge attacks. Others weapons, a toy gun and a big fat red pair of boxing gloves, offer no more than a little bruising and some surprising comedy.
There’s actually a light comic tone throughout this film, matching the wry smile that occasionally appears on Tae-suk’s otherwise silent lips.
The smile doesn’t stop appearing when the cops finally catch up with him.
Once caught, Tae-suk continues to show his resilience for performing delightfully human actions in the face of a cold, mean reality. Watching him should renew our desire to do the same.