The Bow (2005)

The Bow, directed by Ki-duk Kim is a simple yet disturbing picture that is in the mold of modern extreme Korean cinema.  Kim sticks to many of the key elements of his past films through the use of limited dialogue which forces the viewer to interpret the motives and moods of the characters solely through their actions.  While the dialogue is sparse and we never hear either of the two main characters utter a single word throughout the movie,  we are sure of their intentions simply by observing the non-verbal cues they display in the interaction they have between them.

The Bow is the story of an old man and a 16-year-old girl who live out at sea on an old boat making a living by offering their boat as a leisure fishing locale and telling fortunes.  The old man has raised the girl for the past ten years out at sea with no exposure to the outside world with the exception of holidaying fisherman.   It quickly becomes known that he is grooming her to be his wife on her seventeenth birthday and in preparation for the big day he is planning an elaborate yet personal ceremony between the two with the use of traditional Asian garb.  Conflict arises when a charming teenage boy comes to the boat with his father and quickly captures the attention of the girl.  With the old man quickly realizing that he is losing the girls affections he does everything he can to move up the wedding date to keep his lifelong dream from perishing.  There is also a strong sense of mysticism that resides in the old man and the young girl through their fortune-telling.

The Bow is slow-moving film that meanders along at a leisurely pace with much of the same melodramatic music piped in the background.  The absence of dialogue does test one’s attention span but Kim is successful at staying on course through the use of strong body language exhibited by the two main characters.  This film definitely has a Lolita like overtone to it and though Kim was trying to end the film with a surreal and artistically pleasing scene, it came across as rather crude.  Kim’s movies can be difficult to watch through Western eyes simply because they test the boundaries of basic morals and this film is no exception.

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~ by asiaflicks on March 25, 2010.

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