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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as beautiful and grotesque as a film can get
Like most of his movies, Kim Ki-Duk's The Isle is very unique. It is set on an isle in which small floating rooms are set up and rented out. The lake is run by a mute woman called Hee-Jin who spends most of her time maintaining these floating rooms and offering 'services' to its visitors. One day a man trying to escape his past arrives and he immediately attracts the...
Published on 24 Jun 2005 by bobby_bobson

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Totally Hooked ... :-)
"The Isle" is the story of the relationship between a depressive male and a mute female. She runs a fishing retreat which takes the form of a number of small floating huts on a lake, and he is one of a number of her customers. Their bizarre relationship revolves around his violence both towards himself and her, and her jealousy and her equally extreme self-harming...
Published on 17 Mar 2006 by Green Man Music


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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as beautiful and grotesque as a film can get, 24 Jun 2005
By 
bobby_bobson (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Isle [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Like most of his movies, Kim Ki-Duk's The Isle is very unique. It is set on an isle in which small floating rooms are set up and rented out. The lake is run by a mute woman called Hee-Jin who spends most of her time maintaining these floating rooms and offering 'services' to its visitors. One day a man trying to escape his past arrives and he immediately attracts the attention of Hee-Jin. As the film progresses the two characters start to discover that they have feelings for each other.
The Isle is basically a love story albeit a dark twisted gruesome love story. Kim Ki-Duk has a unique way of letting his characters convey their feelings for each other. Both characters find it hard to express their love for each other by conventional methods, which isn't helped by the fact that one of them is mute. So the only way they can express themselves is through action and violence, which at times can be hard to look at. I'm not going to lie to you I did want turn away at certain parts and I've sat through some pretty gruesome movies. Let's just say that there is a reason for a fishing hook being on the front cover of the box. Both actors do an excellent job playing their characters, especially Seo Jeung who plays Hee-jin since she had to portray the character without saying a single word.
The DVD itself isn't the best that Tartan has released but it is still pretty good. It's filled with your usual trailers and behind the scene extras. The only disappointment I got was to learn that the BBFC cut a few minutes out of the film due to certain animal cruelty scenes.
I have always admired Kim Ki-Duk for his willingness to explore dark subject matters that other filmmakers tend to avoid and to do so in such a captivating way. The Isle manages to pull you in with its beautiful surroundings and then make you turn away in horror. The only criticism I have is that the film does seem to have a fairly slow pace which might put some people off. So overall if you are a fan of Kim Ki-Duk and Asia Extreme then The Isle is a perfect addition to your collection. If you like movies that are different and filled with controversy then I would also give this a try. Just remember this film is definitely not for everyone.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I will never see a fish hook the same way again, 2 Dec 2007
By 
This is my third film from director Ki-duk Kim (II). The first one being "3-Iron" and the second "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring" both being great but close to silent films. The Isle (Seom), a deeply troubling and equally beautiful film that will shake the hardiest of souls despite a minimal body count and bloodletting. The poetic setting propels much of the storyline, which follows lost souls Hee-Jin (Suh Jung), an errand girl and occasional prostitute who services a neighborhood of floating lake homes, and new resident Hyun-Shik (Yoosuk Kim), a quiet, suicidal cop on the run from the law after shooting his girlfriend. When the despondent Hyun-Shik tries to kill himself, the young girl stops him with a well-applied knife poke. She continues to spy on him, and the two silently develop a twisted relationship that escalates when he engages in some self-mutilation involving fish hooks. Add to the mix an accidental death, corpse disposal, more fish hook mayhem, and a lyrical finale, and you have one of the more memorable art-house/shock cinema

Though filled with images of sexual mutilation, excretion, and much-discussed animal violence (mainly to fish), "The Isle" is a far cry from an exploitation film; this is deeply felt, melancholy material, a harsh love story between two people beaten down by life and unable to express themselves except through pain.

The film also leavens the somber tone with a few nicely placed sick laughs, often at the expense of the characters' outrageous behavior, and director Ki-duk Kim displays an impeccable eye for simple, beautifully composed images. The floating single-room homes over foggy, rippling water are a marvelous, otherworldly visual conceit, though the feeling that the film itself might just float away is indeed fulfilled in the puzzling finale, which unfortunately goes about half a minute too long and closes with a non sequitor image that undoes much of the climax's power.

"The Isle (Seom)" a small blip in an otherwise immaculately constructed film that refuses to play by anyone's rules and stands as another proud example of horror filmmaking as a matter of tone rather than content.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Totally Hooked ... :-), 17 Mar 2006
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This review is from: The Isle [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
"The Isle" is the story of the relationship between a depressive male and a mute female. She runs a fishing retreat which takes the form of a number of small floating huts on a lake, and he is one of a number of her customers. Their bizarre relationship revolves around his violence both towards himself and her, and her jealousy and her equally extreme self-harming practises.
An extremely well-filmed movie, in typically beautiful oriental style with mist rolling over the lakes and deep blue hues, the film is let down by its sheer pointlessness.
In terms of the film's self-promotion as extreme perversion, whilst the viewing is certainly not mainstream, I wouldn't rate it as overly extreme. The self-harming incidents which are the main pieces of uncomfortable viewing are spread fairly far apart and between them the film can be a little slow. In fact, the 'worst' case of the woman's self-harming, towards the end of the film, is actually strangely comic in its execution.
More could have been done with the particularly interesting psychology of the woman. For instance her tendency to swim underwater at night and spy on her customers by sneaking up through the trapdoor in the huts' floors could have been pursued with great effect.
So in summary it was, for me, certainly a watchable film but neither as perversely offensive as it claims, nor does it hold a meaningful story. So despite its strong cinematography I'm giving it an average vote.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful/compelling/disturbing/hypnotic., 6 Jun 2005
By 
Stefan Brenner "qbalber" (Cambridge, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Isle [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
'The Isle' is, in turn, beautiful, compelling, disturbing & hypnotic. As a fan of world cinema, I appreciate many different qualities in a film and, in my opinion, this one has them all. At present, Korean cinema is probably at the top of tree with such excellent and original films as 'Oldboy', 'Save the Green Planet', 'Sympathy for Mr Vengeance' and 'Memories of Murder'. Kim Ki-duk's later films are great too, but I don't believe that he ever surpasses 'The Isle'. I rate this film so highly that I even own two copies: First Run Features' uncut, letterboxed R1 edition (with music video and trailer) and Tartan's more recent (cut) R2 anamorphic widescreen release! Stylistically influenced by Kaneto Shindo's 'Onibaba', the film works on a nember of level's. It charts the developing obsessive relationship between two damaged individuals with their longing for a resolution that would allow them trust and reconciliation - a trust that neither, given their precious experiences, feels that they can afford. Of course, for Koreans, this is very much the story of their two countries' joint history, something the director lets you work out for yourself rather than shoving down your throat (unlike the fishooks in the film). One caveat: the uncut film contains scenes featuring fairly extreme animal cruelty and so should be avoided by those who are sensitive to such issues.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better presentation would be worth an extra star..., 18 Dec 2006
Somewhat pretentious and not as interesting as the same director's "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring" this film nonetheless contains some striking imagery and a very fine performance from it's lead actress. What's really disappointing about this dvd is the quality of the print which I thought was appalling. Unless you're a Kim Ki-duk junkie my advice would be to wait for a better one.
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14 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Turn off, 2 Aug 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Isle [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
I am a keen viewer of Asia extreme films, but this film contains some of the most disturbing and non justified scenes I've ever seen. I can deal with grotesque and gruesome if there's a purpose however slight in getting a message across. This is gratitious (and not in the sense of for instance Pulp Fiction), this is a pure video nasty with very few redeeming features, nice artistic lighting doesn't betray the fact that this is an exceptionally twisted film.
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6 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WEIRD SADISTIC WATER WORLD!, 9 April 2007
By 
K. bruce "BubbleWorm" (U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Isle [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
as a keen viewer of Asian cinema i decided to give this movie a shot based on the plot line on the back of the DVD alone.
this made it sound like a creepy horror tale of an evil mermaid type creature who devours men in her evil lair. right? so i was expecting pale black haired scary ghosts but 'kool' water ones instead of the ones that float on ceilings! right?
wrong! their are no ghosts or spirits, just one crazy gal who's role is not really explained, i think she is a kind of cleaner for fishermen, i read somewhere that she 'arranges' prostitutes to tend to the men their if she can't do it herself but this is inaccurate. THE MEN staying their order some prostitutes and she simply transports them to the correct 'boathouse', only having sex with a man later in the movie which is out of jealousy because the object of her desires has a new daily visitor. (the prostitute mentioned earlier)
the film explores sadism and strange sexual relation's, it's not slick or stylish and the story isn't enough to keep you interested, or indeed make you want to watch it again.
the overall look is low budget and shoddy and has a washed out 80's feel, so if you like aesthetically pleasing features then this certainly ain't for you.

The hook scenes: very gross and er disturbing but the key highlights of this otherwise dull movie, and the scenes that pull the whole thing together in a weird and strangely wonderful way.

The only reason I kept on watching this slow and despite being set in the water- DRY film was the strange manner of the relationship that is forming between the 2 lead characters, as a study of humanity ths aspect is very interesting.

It's worth a watch once or twice if it's on TV but I don't feel it warrants a purchase, but then again if you want to see it that's what you have to do 9 times out of 10! so if this kind of thing interests you then go ahead, but don't spend too much...

I have edited this review today, (a year or so later) after re-reading it to see why most people chose not to vote for it as a "helpful" review. well all I can say is that I have watched hundreds more films in this time and have learnt to appreciate these kind of slow-moving uneventful films for what they are, my opinions back then were somewhat one sided and my reviews were and still are I guess ameteurish, but we all have to start somewhere! thanks for reading.
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Isle [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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