2013 [KOREAN]

Drama / Thriller

IMDb Rating 6.4 10 5205

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February 21, 2021 at 02:41 AM



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Korean 2.0
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Korean 5.1
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by johnnymurphy15 8 / 10

Beneath the insanity lies a Buddhist parable.

If you are slightly squeamish or easily offended, then nothing can prepare you for the shocking and subversive content which permeates pretty much the entire film. Although it does seem like an exercise of shock value and bad taste, there is a twisted Buddhist parable to be found beneath if you see the penis symbolising desire and ego, which in Buddhist belief must be eradicated. I think you see what I'm getting at!

Korean Director Kim Ki Duk uses some strange stylistic choices, most notably the fact that there is absolutely no dialogue in the film, only gasps, screams and moans of pain and pleasure. Personally, I found it a bit jarring at first, but after a while, you get used to this as there is a lot of action and content which do all the talking. For me it also shows social disconnection in society. People in this film use each other for sexual pleasure or are in some sort of emotional or physical conflict with each other, signifying a world where people only serve their ego's.

Kim Ki Duk also wastes no time into getting down to the nitty gritty. Within the first ten minutes, most men in the audience will be sitting cross legged and wincing in general discomfort. It starts with a seemingly normal family consisting of a man, wife and son (with the lack of dialogue, you never learn their names). Man goes to meet his younger mistress (Also played by same actress who plays his wife!). While they have sex in a car, the wife sees them and notices the son is also there watching them and getting turned on by it. In a fit of jealous rage, wife attempts to cut off man's penis when he returns home. After failing that, she proceeds to cut off her sons penis while he sleeps, eats it, then runs away!

Now that the son has no penis, he finds it hard to act upon his intense desire he has for his father's mistress who he regularly visits in the shop she works in. With the forced removal of sexual pleasure, he tries to find other ways to experience this feeling with his father's assistance. After some internet research, father finds out that extreme friction of the skin can bring a man to orgasm as well as stabbing instruments. We see scenes of son and father rubbing their skin with a stone and experiencing pleasure, but as soon as the pleasure sensations fade, they are left with the intense pain which follows the temporary pleasure. Son starts to have an intense sexual relationship with mistress which involves her stabbing him in the shoulder with knife and digging it in him, causing the friction needed to bring him to orgasm. This signifies again the lack of human compassion and warmth during intimate moments, giving way to human cruelty and it's projection through self loathing and insecurity.

When a surgical procedure takes place involving the father's penis being transferred to the son, the son has to face the Freudian nightmare that he has sexual feelings for his own mother. It is interesting how the same actress plays both the mother and the younger mistress as I think it means the son has discovered that the woman he wants is a projection of his mother. Kim Ki Duk does not shy away from the incest theme here as he continues to make the audience feel uncomfortable. When events inevitably lead to tragedy, son finally realises he needs to remove his desire (penis) and then lead a monastic and happy life. One of the principal teachings of Buddhism is to eliminate desire in order to have a non-judgemental understanding of the world without emotional attachment which only seeks to distort your perceptions and happiness. Of course there are probably nicer and more palatable ways of illustrating Buddhist principles, but I personally find it admirable that Kim Ki Duk made these shocking choices without compromise. It is baffling, uncomfortable, intense and graphic, but never dull and full of symbolic possibility.

Reviewed by AgentDice 8 / 10

Kim Ki-duk's latest is a gloriously off-the-charts study in perversity featuring castration, rape and incest.

A gloriously off-the-charts study in perversity featuring castration, rape and incest, Kim Ki-duk's "Moebius" is right inside the Korean king- of-hackitude's wheelhouse of outrageous cinema. A twisted companion piece to the fraught mother-son relationship in last year's "Pieta," Kim's latest ups the ante with arguably his most twisted nuclear family yet, a lust-and-guilt-ridden menage a quarter.

Just to prove what a daring formalist he is at heart, Kim has chosen to tell this story without a word of dialog, unless you count gasps of pain and pleasure, of which there are rather a lot throughout. This means the characters are never named, and the English-language press notes describe them only as Father (Cho Jae-Hun, reuniting with Kim after their legendary collaborations on "Address Unknown" and "Bad Guy"), Son (teen th esp Seo Young-ju) and Mother, played by Lee Eun-woo, who, in a bravura feat of transformation, also plays another key role as the father's younger mistress.

As the story starts, it's clear Mom has found out about Dad's affair and is taking it badly, judging by the way they come to blows when he takes a call from his lover, a store clerk who lives nearby. The son inertly ignores the fuss, seemingly more preoccupied with comic books and masturbation, like most teenage boys. One night, when the mother fails to get at the father with a knife, she takes out her rage on her own son by cutting his penis off, eats the severed member (recalling the mother's ingestion of her son's amputated toe in "Pieta"), and then runs off distraught and hysterical into the night.

Audiences who haven't walked out by this point in disgust (although surely no one goes to a Kim Ki-duk film without knowing what they might be in for) will be treated to an even more grueling second and third act, as the shame-stricken father investigates penis transplants on the Internet, and the son ends up taking part (after a fashion, given his castrated state) in a gang rape of the mistress. The boy later discovers — with Dad's guidance, no less — how to bring himself to climax through self-abrasion and knife gouging of other body parts. And then it gets even nuttier when Mom comes home for the last act, precipitating a chain of events that make sense of the pic's titular chiral object.

Many will of course be offended by the film's very premise, and that's surely Kim's intention; always been a vicious satirist of bourgeois values, he's almost never knowingly passed up a chance to dollop a little misogynistic sadism somewhere into the plot, like the spicy kimchi no Korean meal would be complete without. And like Lars Von Trier, whose "Antichrist" the film sort of evokes, Kim is something of a professional provocateur, which doesn't cancel out the fact that he's quite serious about exploring extreme emotional states.

There's no doubt the film is meant to be funny, an extreme black comedy, and neither is there any doubt that he also wants us to feel for these poor, broken, bullshit-crazy people. They're ridiculous, but they're also somehow believable, even relatable, mostly thanks to the cast's extraordinary skills at emoting wordlessly. The decision to eschew dialog seems perverse at first, but by degrees it makes sense, creating a primal quality that harks back to ancient forms of theater, even without the intended echoes of "Oedipus Rex." Any film-studies academics out there who still like to write about notions such as the phallus as defined by Lacan and other theoreticians fashionable in the 1980s will have a field day with this one.

Reviewed by Turin_Horse 9 / 10

Gore cinema to tell a Buddhist tale

Have you ever watched a film that brings your endurance to explicit (even sick!) blood and sex violence to its very limit while at the same time makes you laugh and depicts with smart (yet explicit!) cleverness one of the basic essentials of Buddhism?... No, I'm not trying to bring opposite worlds together, but Kim Ki-Duk did, in his film Moebius.

A truly masterpiece of cinema in its pure essence, compelling and with an stunning economy of resources: few settings, few actors, even the two female roles are played by the same actress (Eun-woo Lee) in an outstanding performance. Moebius tells a story with deep metaphysical symbolism using just images (there is no dialogs) and focusing exclusively and with dazzling clarity on the points important for the story and its meaning, namely the search for physical pleasure concomitant to the nature of every human being, and the main protagonist of this: a part of the male anatomy known as "penis".

Only after the last scene, when the young protagonist bows before Buddha, one can understand the whole meaning of the film, every piece fits then perfectly in the puzzle (emotional puzzle, we are not talking about crime and mystery here). Then we understand that pleasure (the main, maybe the only important one: sexual pleasure) comes always at a price in this world; pleasure involves pain one way or another. Not once in the film pleasure brings any kind of satisfaction or happiness, instead it causes distress, sorrow, guilt, pain, immediate or in the long term; many of the scenes in the film show the attainment of pleasure directly through pain, and with more pain as a consequence.


But then, in the end, the young protagonist frees himself from this tie, through the most direct way: castration (well, there are actually several of these throughout the film, so WARNING for sensitive viewers!), and later, bowing before Buddha, he does something he had not done even once during the film: he SMILES, as Buddha did. He is released now from human passions, no longer slave of his desires, no longer subject to the inescapable search for pleasure of the physical body. He is now FREE

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