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  The Isle  
  Year: 2000
Suh Jung and Kim Yoo-Suk
  Director: Kim Ki-Duk  
  Producer: Lee Eun  
  Cast: Suh Jung, Kim Yoo-Suk, Park Sung-Hee, Cho Jae-Hyu, Jang Hang-Seon  
  The Skinny: A seemingly mute woman who runs a remote fishing resort saves a customer from killing himself and becomes obsessed with him.  
     The Isle is a powerful piece of filmmaking that defies genre and definition. A woman who never speaks runs a fishing resort with small floating cabins on a remote Korean lake. She provides food, bait and occasionally sexual services to her clients. One evening she witnesses one of the renters, who is on the run from the law, trying to commit suicide. She saves him by fishing the pistol from his hand in one swift motion. This is the first of many gruesomely metaphorical uses for fishhooks in The Isle.
     After saving the man, the woman begins to develop an obsession with him, and the two begin a strange love affair. It's the kind of courtship you might find in a David Lynch movie—creepy and tender all rolled into one. When the man strikes up a friendship with a local prostitute the woman kills her out of jealousy and dumps the body in the lake. It is not wise to cross this seemingly meek wallflower.
    The woman's name has been listed on several web sites as Hee-Jin, but the print reviewed here gave no names for any of the characters in the subtitles. Whether it was a mistake or not, this makes the film more intriguing. Not giving the people names in such a serene and beautiful setting allows for a more effective blending with the ecosystem around them. The performances are great, and the film's theme seems to be how human beings treat each other, and their relation to nature. In the end, the man and woman forge a bond involving self-mutilation—again with fishhooks—and sail to a quiet part of the lake away from humanity in their own private ecosystem. The last shot of the film is hauntingly baffling and is completely open to the viewer's interpretation.
     Viewers who are sensitive to real onscreen animal abuse should probably avoid this film altogether, as there are several scenes of fish and lizard mutilation, and some unexplained dog abuse as well. Ironically, the scenes involving violence against animals are more disturbing than the acts perpetrated against human beings. Hmmmm…maybe that's the whole point of the movie. The Isle is a weird movie but well worth a try for people looking for an art-house kind of experience. (Magicvoice 2003)

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Laser
Korean Language Track
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles


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