The Isle (2000) 1080p

Movie Poster
The Isle (2000) 1080p - Movie Poster
Drama | Thriller
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
Korean 5.1  
Run Time:
90 min
IMDB Rating:
7 / 10 
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Directors: Ki-duk Kim [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Mute Hee-Jin is working as a clerk in a fishing resort in the Korean wilderness; selling baits, food and occasionally her body to the fishing tourists. One day she falls in love to Hyun-Shik, who is on the run for the police and rescues him with a fish hook, when he tries to commit suicide.


  • The Isle (2000) 1080p - Movie Scene 1
  • The Isle (2000) 1080p - Movie Scene 2
  • The Isle (2000) 1080p - Movie Scene 1

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Beautiful but gruesome

Wow, where to start with this. Ki Duk Kim has always been a divisive director, with his films showing slow burning, very natural, almost spiritual human traits. This though is like a magnified version of a Ki Duk Kim film. It's low budget, set in a single location, stunningly beautiful, very gruesome in parts, explicit and controversial. It centres around a lonely woman (Hee Jin) who delivers bait to tourist fisherman. What we see unfold is a symbolism heavy ride into a twisted / tumultuous relationship between Hee Jin and a visitor. It's full of breathtaking cinematography, sparse dialogue and one of the most stomach churning suicide attempts I've ever seen on screen. As usual with Ki Duk Kim, water as a symbol is featured heavily, and so are animals and nature. Quite why certain little creatures are sacrificed on screen I'm not sure though. A warning to anyone who is easily offended by animal cruelty - don't watch this movie.

What does it all mean in the end? I'm torn between it being an entire metaphor for how difficult relationships can be / an exploration into gender roles or a simple descent into madness tale. Maybe all 3. It is a heck of an experience though. Think of a Pedro Almodóvar movie mixed with a bit of Takashi Miike, maybe with a bit of Haneke in there too, and you may get the picture.

It's beautiful yet gruesome. I have to take a mark off for the animal cruelty, as it is bordering on unacceptable levels at times, but it still gets a 7.5/10

Masterful film-making

I'm fast becoming a fan of Korean director Kim Ki-duk; this is the second film of his I've watched after SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER...AND SPRING. The two films have much in common in terms of style and setting, but THE ISLE is something else entirely. While SPRING was a heartwarming story that championed the Buddhist lifestyle, THE ISLE is an extraordinarily dark tale of obsession and broken psychology.

One again, Kim Ki-duk has crafted an expertly visual film; THE ISLE looks fantastic and the setting of those floating holiday lettings is an exceptional one. The characters are painted in broad strokes but this makes them thoroughly interesting and it goes without saying that the subdued acting is fantastic. This is a slow burner of a film, yes, but a thoroughly satisfying one all the same, in which the atmosphere is interspersed with some eye-popping set-pieces; if this doesn't put you off fishing then I don't know what will.

Although the infliction of pain is upsetting in the extreme, there are always good reasons for what occurs here, making this as far from "torture porn" as you'll get. The only issue I have with it really is the real-life animal cruelty, something I'm dead set against, but the UK DVD thankfully excises much of this material. In any case, I can't wait to check out more from the director.

What was Kim thinking?

Is this the same Kim Ki Duk who directed the poignant, life-spanning testimonial of "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring"? The same Kim Ki Duk who directed the exquisite, nearly silent, heartbreaking longing of "3 Iron"? The same Kim Ki Duk who dazzled us with the staggering tragedy of "The Coast Guard" and made us squirm about the ugliness of nonchalant teenage prostitution before returning to his almost patented nature motif to allow us all (characters and viewers alike) to experience redemption in "Samaritan Girl"? I just cannot seem to find him in this film.

Oh, sure, Kim's nature motif is still present. The film takes place entirely on a lake surrounded by mountains and on fishing floats resting placidly on the surface of calm waters. Yes, it's Kim Ki Duk, all right. Kim even describes the film as "beautiful" in an interview included in the DVD's special features. But I'm not sure anymore what that means after viewing this putrescent presentation.

What is beautiful about angry, potty-mouthed prostitutes, lustful, violent and potty-mouthed fishermen, a covetous mute merchant, explicit animal torture, sequences of self-mutilation and a pace that swings nauseatingly between bestial carnality and mindless brutality? These are the only elements of humanity that present themselves in this utterly confounding and ultimately pointless film. If it is based on a fable or intended as a parable or is meant to be symbolic of something greater, this reviewer is unfamiliar with the source material. It has been favorably compared to "Audition" by Japanese director Takashi Miike (much to Kim's satisfaction), but aside from some astonishingly good performances, especially given what they had to work with, by lead actors Seo Jung and Kim Yoo Suk, I find little reason to recommend this film. I have not seen "Audition," but I doubt it would alter in any way my view of "The Isle." Its violence is pornographic and senselessly sadistic. Its sex is not pornographic, but passionless and masochistic. Characters behave on irritating impulse because there is no plot. Its point is either non-existent or, I will admit, lost amidst Korean cultural quirks that I fail to understand.

The only beauty is in the cinematography, which is classic Kim: fog-shrouded boats lapping slowly across a serene lake, mountainous terrain dominating the background, and an imaginative and playful use of color. At times it seems as if viewers are locked in a big Kim Ki Duk romper room. Some touches, like the mysterious and seductive mute merchant played by Jung and the pleasantly odd use of motorbikes, are intriguing. But as a film, this effort is downright confusing and, in the end, offensive to the senses, not necessarily to sensibilities. One hopes that Kim will leave this kind of film-making in the trash heap of his past, for we know he is capable of so much more.
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