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South Korea, 1999 (MIFF 2002, Beauty within the Beast – Kim Ki-Duk)

Director: Kim Ki-Duk

Set in the back alleys of Paris, Wild Animals sketches the unique friendship between two Koreans living abroad. South Korean Chung-hae goes to Paris to study art but, lacking scruples, he soon winds up earning a living through various scams. He meets an AWOL North Korean soldier named Hong-san, trying to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. The friendship - initially based on necessity - soon develops its own coded sympathy and compassion. Chung-hae hatches a scheme to use Hong-san's martial arts abilities to impress a local crime lord but they soon become perilously embroiled in the French underworld.

Shot entirely in France - and featuring two well-known French actors, Denis Lavant (Leos Carax' leading man) and Richard Bohringer (Diva, The Cook, The Thief...) in supporting roles - Kim's second feature is nevertheless concerned with acutely Korean issues. The friendship that develops between the two leads is replete with mix-ups tragedy and reconciliation - a turbulent concoction easily read as an allegory of Korea's traumatic separation. Kim's second feature is a fascinating meditation on the theme of the outsider.

"Kim Ki-Duk has lively ideas about plotting and pacing, not to mention an excellent eye for imagery, colour and visual detail." - Tony Rayns, Vancouver Film Festival

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