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South Korea, 1996 (MIFF 2002, Beauty within the Beast – Kim Ki-Duk)

Director: Kim Ki-Duk

"The recurrent themes in my films are space and captivity. The woman in Crocodile and the man in The Isle are captives; they're characters who become prisoners through a violence which, ironically, is beautiful." - Kim Ki-Duk

Kim Ki-Duk's debut is an unsettling and unclassifiable piece, revealing a deep fascination with society's disempowered fringes. The Crocodile is a vagrant who trawls the River Han for the bodies of drowned suicide victims, hiding the corpses and extorting money from the bereaved families. His world expands only slightly when he saves a young girl from death at the hands of her boyfriend. Forcing his attentions upon her, he initiates a tortuous relationship - at one point almost blossoming into love when he encourages her to paint his portrait. But, overwhelmed by sadness, the relationship inevitably swerves towards tragedy.

With Crocodile, Kim demonstrated a keenness to chart new inroads into familiar material. The River Han, a permanent visual reference for Seoul's citizens, is reinvented as an excremental sewer that turns people into dead meat. Exemplifying Kim's conviction that beauty lies in ugliness, the river is to the Crocodile a source of survival, both financially and spiritually. The film's visual poetry, clashing head-on with its brutal subject matter, turned Crocodile into an instant classic.

See also...


Reminiscent of the films of Japan's angry masters (Seijun Suzuki and Shohei Imamura in particular), Kim Ki-Duk has earned a reputation for his unflinching exploration of the sexually and emotionally ... More »


"Hyunshik, an ex-cop in deep pain and on the lam, arrives at the end of his road, an isolated lake dotted with floating huts, serving as a retreat for fishing and a host of sordid activities. Its ... More »


Kim's most experimental film to date, Real Fiction was shot in just 200 minutes with eight 35mm cameras, ten digital cameras and twelve sequence directors. It's title, translated literally from ... More »


Hang Gi, a tough pimp ruling his brothel with an iron fist, has a huge chip on his shoulder. Moments after setting eyes on Seon-hwa, a pretty and proper college student, he forces her to kiss him ... More »


Touring Berlin, Montreal, Moscow and LA Film Festivals, Kim's third film shook audiences with its haunting images of two women reconciling polar differences. Unique in positioning two female ... More »


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 ... More »

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