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Real Fiction - Tai Seng Entertainment UK Print E-mail
User Rating: / 1
Written by Ed Fir   
Sunday, 20 January 2008

Directed by: Ki-duk Kim
Written by: Ki-duk Kim
Produced by: Harry Lee, Seung-Soo Shin
Music by: Sang-yun Jeon
Cinematography by: Cheol-hyeon Hwang
Edited by: Min-ho Kyeong
Cast: Jin-mo Ju, Jin-ah Kim, Min-seok Son, Je-rak Lee, Ki-yeon Kim, Sun-mi Myeong
Year: 2000
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean (English & Chinese Subtitles)
Color: Color
Runtime: 85 Minutes

Aspect Ratio:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean
Tai Seng Entertainment UK Ltd.

I really don’t like writing bad reviews, especially when my first experience with a Directors work had been so positive.  I love movies, and I love my DVD collection, so when you hit a bump in the road, it’s not something you really want to publicize, or take the time to write about.  Still, maybe it’ll help someone else save money.

Kim Ki-duk directed “The Isle”, a film I adored.  It is spellbinding, passionate, and open to interpretation.  It engages at all kinds of emotional levels.  When two more of his works became available, “Real Fiction” and “Bad Guy”, I just had to get them.  My first foray was the former.

A plot synopsis of Real Fiction is going to dress this thing up in fine clothes.  On paper, it sure sounds worthy of a viewing.  A street artist in Korea is subjected to all kinds of humiliations.  His first love left him for another man, his girlfriend is having casual sex with a stranger, local hoodlums are demanding money by menaces, and more often than not, his customers hate his work or refuse to pay.  Add to this a long history of various bits of bullying and forced acts of degradation, and it’s all a bit much.  So, he finally snaps, and sets out to take revenge on all that have wronged him.  The penalty for all this abuse?  Why death of course.

Sound interesting?  Well, hold on a bit, because this film is trying to be existential.  I’m not sure any of it really happens.  Blood on the lead guys face disappears from one scene to the next, bloody hands are cleaned, and cops appear only because they too need punishing.  It’s all a bit vapid.

Still, revenge movies are really quite common, so this film gets nothing for uniqueness.  However, they can be fun, just as slasher films we know won’t ever completely conclude, or monster movies where we know the monster will finally perish, can still offer up entertainment.  Sadly, Real Fiction takes a wrong turn from the outset, and never recovers.

First off, the film has been made in an art-school fashion.  The opening scenes show the artist at work in a public square, drawing portraits of anyone who stops by.  I’m not at all sure the people around them knew a film was being made.  Alternatively, the street scene is being treated as a theater, with the artist sitting in the center performing.  Sadly, the subtitles while good, can lead to some confusion at this point.  The artist is listening to voices on headphones, and sometimes the subs you’re reading are from that, sometimes from passing dialog, and some directed at the artist himself.

Regardless, a woman appears, has her portrait done, refuses to pay, but promises him that if he follows her to a building, he’ll get something he wants.  He goes.  At this point he is seen walking onto a stage, as in a playhouse, and this strange scene is laid out where the woman (constantly filming everything with a camcorder), and a man talk to our hero.  The talk is really reminiscent of past humiliations, reminders of what he has had to go through.  It’s obviously a real playhouse scene, and not filmic at all.

After this, the revenge portion begins.  I’m not going to write much more, because honestly you could guess most of it.  The issue you ought to be aware of though, is that all the murders take place off screen.  Now, I can accept that this isn’t a gore film nor a horror film (and the screen captures I have included misrepresent things, I just didn’t think you’d want shots of people walking around), but dammit, you’ve got to give me something.  You see, the character has been pretty weak throughout his life, so I didn’t really pity him.  The people he killed might well have been worthless human beings, but since we don’t get to see them meet their demise, it’s not satisfying on any level. 

Not to mention, the DVD from “Tai Seng” isn’t very good quality wise, with only trailers as an extra, and it’s a boring time.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the nub of it.  This film is really boring.  I actually took a nap after it, as it seduced me into sleep.  I think my brain was just shutting off, trying to defend itself from atrophy. 

I don’t know, I have no objection to art-films, or films going for a higher level of expression than simply laying out “real life” events.  However, I still need to be engaged.  This film is full of mock-ups of real characters I might care about if only I knew more.  As it is, it’s an endurance test.

I’m going to assume this was a misstep.  None of the wonder that is “The Isle” is in evidence here.  I’m having a difficult time being even generous enough to imagine an audience that would enjoy this film at any level.  It’s an interesting student film perhaps, and good for completists of Ki-duk’s work.  However, those of you wanting another strong dose of all things Asian need to stay well away.  You know what, I don’t even think this one is a renter......


- Trailers

VIDEO: 1.85:1 Widescreen 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean
English & Chinese Subtitles
1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema



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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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