Starring: Jae Hee, Lee Seung-yeon, Kwon Hyuk-ho
Director: Kim Ki-duk
Running Time: 88 mins
3-Iron is a South Korean film about a man who rides his motorbike from town to town searching for abandoned houses to stay in for the night, a system that goes swiftly unnoticed until one life-changing moment.
This is an incredibly clever film. Expertly directed from start to finish by Kim Ki-duk in a unique, elegant and spellbinding style, 3-Iron is a brilliant work of cinematic art from start to finish. Its emotional power throughout is exceptional, made even more impressive by the stunning lack of dialogue throughout, leaving the film to rely heavily on Kim’s directing and the two lead performances, a difficult challenge it pulls off amazingly.
Even if you aren’t as enchanted by this film as I was, the one thing that you’ll definitely remember about it is just how quiet it all is. What’s most striking is the fact that the two leads barely say a word to each other. It may seem strange and impossible to pull off at first, but it’s a thrilling and engrossing tightrope walk that makes for a thoroughly captivating watch.
Of course, that’s not just because of the novelty of so little dialogue, but the unique emotional and atmospheric effect of the technique. The raw emotion that the two leads are able to express through nothing more than looks and very abstract chemistry is stunning from the start, and yet with the quiet atmosphere, everything feels so much more tense, and as a result utterly enthralling.
Along with the two leads, director Kim Ki-duk deserves huge praise for pulling off such a unique film. With the seemingly space-age elegance and drama of a Wong Kar Wai film, Kim gives 3-Iron an incredibly striking vibe at every moment, ranging from the incredible silence that runs from start to finish to the film’s fluid and beautiful pacing.
This isn’t your average romantic drama, and although the story at hand mainly centres on the growing bond between the two leads, it’s the beautiful cinematic artistry that dominates 3-Iron throughout, and the very reason that it makes for such a memorable and emotionally encapsulating film from start to finish.
Although its middle act doesn’t quite reach the spellbinding drama and tension of the first act, the slow pacing here is perfectly-pitched throughout, and as we watch our two leads move from dwelling to dwelling, the film becomes more and more dreamlike, to the point that it’s impossible to be pulled out, no matter how slow it’s all moving.
Overall, I loved 3-Iron. Initiated brilliantly by an exceptional opening act, complete with incredible performances, directing and dialogue (or a lack thereof), and standing strong throughout with its cinematic beauty, it’s a truly engrossing and often even magical romantic drama that will definitely stay with you for a long time, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.