With the success of Pieta at the Venice International Film Festival it seems that Kim Ki-Duk’s star is in the ascension once again. As I made clear in my review of Arirang (which I gave 4 out of 5), I have long been sceptical of any positive press surrounding him since my previous experiences with Kim Ki-duk felt like a slog thanks to the despite visual beauty of 3-Iron and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring. I think I also saw his enfant terrible persona that he had built as a bit much but after watching Arirang, I became convinced that I was a little too harsh, a little too dismissive. I have since even considered a season of reviews of his films. As I found out through Arirang, Kim Ki-duk has lead a tough life and became a filmmaker without any previous training. I have to respect him for that and I can see where his tough subjects comes from but I still find the content of Samaritan Girl and Bad Guy and The Isle a bit much to take. As if sensing the wavering of my dismissive attitude, Terracotta distribution have announced the release of a two-disc set featuring his very first film, Crocodile (1996) and Arirang (2011) one of his latest offerings which I quite liked. Here are the details:
CROCODILE / ARIRANG
Director: KIM Ki-duk
DVD RELEASE DATE: 12th November 2012
This 2 disc DVD set will include Crocodile, Kim Ki Duk’s rarely seen 1996 directorial debut which has never been released in the UK; the grittiest of his early work which led the path to series of intense and highly acclaimed features and Arirang, the director’s long anticipated documentary about his self-imposed exile, Winner of “Un Certain Regard” Award at Cannes Festival 2011.
South Korea / 1996 / 102 Mins / Drama / In Korean with English subtitles
Starring: Cho Jae-hyeon (Wild Animals, The Isle, Bad Guy, Address Unknown, Sword in the Moon, The Kick)
Kim Ki-duk’s stunning debut Crocodile is a study of violence in South Korean society and seemingly unlike any other Korean films made before it. It depicts the life of violent thug, Crocodile, who lives with a peddling boy and an old man by the banks of the river Han in Seoul, a popular suicide spot.
Homeless Crocodile makes a living by robbing the dead bodies of those who commit suicide by jumping into the river. One day, he saves the life of a suicidal young woman from drowning but only to use her for sex. Keeping her there, he develops an abusive relationship and, despite his temper and violence, a bond soon forms between the four of them.
South Korea / 2010 / 100 minutes / Documentary / In Korean with English subtitles
Arirang marks Kim Ki-duk’s triumphant return to cinema after an absence of three years. Arirang offers audiences a unique and indiscreet look at the man regarded as one of Korea’s greatest living directors.
While shooting a suicide scene for his last film, DREAM, in 2008, the lead actress nearly perished and the incident triggered an emotional and creative breakdown for the director. As an act of self-administered therapy, Arirang takes playful liberties with the documentary form as Kim Ki-duk traces his experiences and mindset during this period of crisis.
Arirang is a folk song and, according to some sources, Korea’s unofficial national anthem. While ostensibly a love song, its theme of parting and sorrow provides a potent metaphor for Korea’s suffering as a nation and its enforced division at the end of the Korean War.
“Arirang is the ultimate work of auteurist cinema” – Empire
“This startling, fascinating and bizarre film is in some ways the strangest arthouse event of the year.” – The Guardian 4/5 stars
“a rare insight into a controversial director who’s as divisive as the 38th Parallel.” -Total Film
“Arirang is quite simply Kim Ki-duk’s best film to date.” – Hangul Celluloid