Chan-wook Park’s (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) newest joint is about four fucked up people in 1930’s Korea. Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim) and Count Fujiwara (Jung-woo Ha) are in cahoots to scam Lady Hideko (Min-he Kim), rich heiress to a gold mine, out of her fortune. Sook-Hee poses as Hideko’s handmaiden (personal servant) while nudging her towards the Count by leaving the two alone together and saying shit like “since the Count arrived your cheeks have grown flushed”. So once the happy couple elope and the cash is in hand they’ll throw Miss Moneybags in a mental hospital to get her out of the picture indefinitely. And things go according to plan at first but suddenly there are some major twists that throw everything you thought you knew out the window. (Incidentally, the fourth fucked up person is Hideko’s “Uncle” (Jin-woong Jo) who bought her when she was a couple of years old and kept her confined to the huge mansion they live in. More on him later.)
Of course this story is way better if you don’t know anything so I strongly encourage you to not read up on spoilers and tell people to back off when they start to babble about it. But have no fear because this will be a spoiler-free Talkin’. Unfortunately that makes this nigh impossible to thoroughly dig into. Shit, I guess I should’ve thought this out beforehand.
Well one thing I know I can safely point out is someone made a really awesome sexy thriller in modern times. In fact as sexy thrillers go I’d say this is one of the best ever. You have a seemingly simple setup with well developed characters but as the movie progresses shit gets complicated and they all eventually reveal how far they will go to achieve happiness, which is the central message? Don’t know but these folks sure do some crazy ass scheming to get what they want.
So the thrills are bountiful. Sook-Hee and the Count are playing a dangerous game because if they get found out by the Uncle he’ll hunt them down and kill them. He’s not the most understanding guy. On one hand he appears to keep to himself mostly and may come across somewhat sophisticated with his lavish manor that includes a library containing thousands of books and scrolls. However if you look a little closer all these texts exhibit a certain characteristic but it’s best if you don’t know just what that is yet. Anyway, he’s trained Hideko for years on how to read properly so he can show off his collection to a privileged few and have these rich assholes bid on the literature. He sees Hideko as a prop, an instrument to tell his stories more than anything else. See? I told you he was fucked up.
Also, Sook-Hee was raised on the streets to be a pickpocket and a thief so she knows how to fuckin’ play people. This is some nice background because it gives a reason why the Count would recruit Sook-Hee for this operation. So you better believe she uses her skills throughout the film to her advantage.
And as cool as these thrills are they only comprise like a third of the picture. There’s so much more that happens that you’re gonna flip over, I promise.
But what about the sexy shit? Oh man, they deliver on that too. The Count is all pretend hot for Hideko so he’s got his hands all over her even though she’s ambivalent about the situation. Then there’s the Uncle who is obviously attracted to Hideko and would love to bone her but as far as we know he’s never acted on his urges. These are both fine features in the story but there are two elements that make for interesting developments.
First of all Sook-Hee and the Count are not into each other. They have a strictly business relationship which was good to see for a change. Normally they would fall in love with each other and there would be the classic triangle between Sook-Hee, Hideko and the Count but thankfully not here. You see Sook-Hee goes along with the Count’s plan because she’s promised a cut of Hideko’s fortune when it’s all over. Her interest is purely monetary.
The second item though is Hideko and Sook-Hee start to have feelings for each other (ok fine this is sort of a spoiler, but a minor one compared to all the rest). The lesbian angle is something you rarely see in movies so this is much appreciated. They give each other looks, mostly Sook-Hee, and there’s so much damn sexual tension between them you can’t believe they’re restraining themselves.
In addition to all the sex and thrills the performances, cinematography, set and costume design are outstanding. The world this takes place in is lush with lots of beautiful dresses, scenery, large elaborate sets, elegant camerawork and spot on editing. Really excellently put together.
So there you…sort of…have it. I can’t recommend this one enough. Like I said before, what I discussed here isn’t even half the fuckin’ film. It’s so rare to get a big budget sexy thriller these days and goddamn, this is actually good too!
You know what? I’m so moved that I’m gonna bring out the ol’ sex sum up thingy I used to do with those couple of spotlight runs of erotic thrillers from years ago. Let’s give it a try.
Sex Scenes: Two and a half, and a half. The first half is for a masturbation scene (with a fucking knife!) and the second half is for a sex scene that starts but cuts away before going full on.
There’s also an attempted rape scene but I definitely do not count that shit in any way. That’s fucking despicable.
After Sex Scenes: Half. We see the aftermath of a previous night’s session and it ain’t pretty.
Strange Cameos: Everyone in this are Korean actors I’m unfamiliar with so I got nothin’, sorry.