Mystical Love Sets Them Free
Release Date: April 29, 2005
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Kim Ki-duk
Executive Producer: Michio Suzuki and Choi Yong-bae
Producer: Kim Ki-duk
Writer: Kim Ki-duk
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics
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New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Web Page: http://www.sonyclassics.com
The story opens with the young man, Tae-suk, drifting on his motorcycle looking for empty houses to stay. He goes from door to door placing flyers on the doorknobs. He later breaks into the house or apartment where the flyer has not been removed, assuming that the owner is away. While Tae-suk lives in the place until they return, he fixes broken items, does their laundry by hand and only steals some food to eat.
One day, Tae-suk wakes to find a woman with a bruised face. Her absent husband has obviously beaten her. Tae-suk runs away, but returns to comfort her while occasionally hitting golf balls into the husband’s practice net in the back yard.
Tae-suk hides when the husband suddenly returns. The woman, Sun-hwa, rebuffs her husbands desire for forgiveness, affection and sex, so he slaps her a couple times more. Tae-suk grabs a 3-iron and starts hitting golf balls into the husband until the husband collapses. Tae-suk and Sun-hwa run off together. They begin a love affair while invading other people’s homes.
The police eventually catch the couple, Sun-hwa reluctantly returns to her husband, and Tae-suk, after being beaten a couple times, tries to find a way to escape his prison cell. He starts practicing silent martial arts moves. Eventually, he is able to move silently behind the man guarding him, acting like the guard’s shadow without being noticed. Soon, he shows up at Sun-hwa’s house again, doing the same thing to her increasingly upset husband.
3-IRON has a Zen Buddhist sensibility. The quiet hero’s lack of maturity and responsibility gets him into trouble, but his growing love for the battered wife inspire him to use his mystical imagination to free both his spirit and hers. The two characters actually never say one word to one another, except when the woman tells him, “I love you,” near the story’s end. At the end, an epigram tells the audience, in a roundabout, poetic way, that life is both reality and a dream. In one sense, the hero retreats into his Zen-like, mystical imagination to escape reality and live out his dreams. The movie leaves it up to the audience to believe whether the young man truly did escape and return. In this way, it also suggests that people, like the wife in the story, can escape from the painful realities of a bad relationship by living in fantasy.
Instead of telling viewers, like Jesus and St. Paul, that “the truth shall set you free (John 8:32)” and “love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6),” this movie teaches, “Love shall set you free.” The movie also has a lyrical, apparently Romantic view of freedom where liberty can lead to irresponsibility and immorality. While the hero’s defense of the battered woman is admirable, his irresponsibility and recklessness are not. In fact, in one scene, he has tied a golf ball around a tree to practice hitting it, but the ball flies off and seriously injures a woman in a passing car. Furthermore, although the wife’s husband is mean and probably deserves to be divorced, the wife eventually commits adultery with the young man.
In spite of its moral, ontological and spiritual problems, 3-IRON is a unique, lyrical film that captivates the viewer with its quiet power. It may not reach an abhorrent level, but it does contain problems, including some foul language, violence and nudity.
3-IRON has a Zen Buddhist sensibility. The quiet hero’s lack of maturity and responsibility gets him into trouble, but his growing love for the battered wife inspire him to use his mystical imagination to free both his spirit and hers. Despite its mystical qualities and the moral failings of the hero, the movie is a unique, lyrical film that captivates with its quiet power. It may not reach an abhorrent level, but it does contain problems, including foul language, violence and nudity.