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Address Unknown back to product details

Kim Sinks--and Stinks
written by talltale April 18, 2006 - 2:27 PM PDT
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Every so often a filmmaker's skills and his subject at hand mesh so beautifully that all-out gratitude is the immediate response. This is not one of those times. In fact, ADDRESS UNKNOWN may be one of the worst films I have ever sat through, simply to ascertain if things could possibly get any worse. They do. That it was made by Ki-duk Kim--for whose "3-Iron," "Samaritan Girl," "Bad Guy" and "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring" I have admiration ranging from fair to immense--comes as an unwelcome surprise. But there it is: This film is absolute crap.

First problem: it's peopled with the looniest, least intelligent and believable characters you could encounter. Remember "Impulse," where an entire town goes nuts due to... (I won't spoil it by telling)? Well, this film makes that third-rate genre piece look like a classic. Second, even bigger, problem: The movie actually deals with subjects that long to be addressed with some intelligence and skill: The America presence in South Korea, then and now; the plight of those of mixed race in Korea; how a country and its populace might own up to their past mistakes.

As a writer/director, Kim has a bad boy reputation, and he does enjoy forcing us to come to terms with things we might not want to confront. But the ham-handed manner in which he orchestrates this mess is laughable when it isn't stupid and ugly. And, please, don't let him anywhere NEAR dialog in English. Phew! The American soldiers sound utterly embarrassing, and the lead American (credited, I believe, as Mitch Malum) gives--due perhaps not to his own lack of talent--a performance that can only be called career-killing. While Kim clearly has no clue as to how Americans act, think or speak, what's his excuse for the nitwit band of Korean characters he's assembled?

You'll have the opportunity to see/hear Kim's short "introduction" prior to the film (I waited until it was over) in which he claims to be so pleased that this DVD has been released here in America because there are still many American soldiers in Korea and they are NOT happy there. Fine: I'm all for getting the U.S. out of Korea, too. But the "blame-the-occupier" game can only be played for so long before another thought occurs: Perhaps these Korean characters might think about taking some responsibility for their own actions. (God know, Kim ought to take some responsibility for his!) I'm shocked, shocked--and this is said irony-free--at the low level to which this dismal movie falls. I suspect even Claude Rains would be.


(Average 5.95)
21 Votes
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