The Bow

2005 [KOREAN]

Action / Drama / Romance

Plot summary

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
816.49 MB
Korean 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 28 min
P/S 2 / 2
1.64 GB
Korean 5.1
23.976 fps
1 hr 28 min
P/S 0 / 5

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by p-stepien7 / 10

Poetry in silence

Probably Kim Ki-Duk's second most pivotal work to date "Hwai" ("The Bow") tells a story of unconventional love - one full of obsession, unfulfilled dreams and poetry. An old fisherman (Seong-hwang Jeon) lives on a decrepit boat together with a coming of age girl, which he rescued from death at sea, when she was no more than 8 years old. She came to live with him on this boat, where her only contact with the outside world are hobbyists, who pay money to come to fish at sea. All that keeps them company are themselves and the delicate music of a bow instrument. After years of caring after the girl the old man has come to love her, but not in a fatherly way. His longing is to marry the beautiful orphan once she reaches the required age...

Kim Ki-Duk is capable of beautiful storytelling, as is to be confirmed by such works of brilliance as "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring". And "The Bow" comes extremely close to such exceptionality, albeit never finally overcomes it's own weaknesses. Nonetheless this is an extremely enjoyable and delightful movie, even though filled with unrealised passions and immoral egoism. Even though the script is extremely simple, even threadbare, it never lingers and keeps you enthralled throughout. Not only by the impressive cinematography, but also the subtle acting and storytelling complemented by a riveting score.

Nonetheless the issues with Kim Ki-Duk as a storyteller are quite apparent. The strength of his movie is in lyricism, romanticism and ideas that do not necessarily fit in well with the modern cynicism of today. As long as the poetry is silent the magic overwhelms you. But the moment Kim Ki-Duk's characters start talking the spell is broken, as everything becomes mundane and at times even corny. Thankfully for "The Bow" our two main protagonists do not utter a word throughout the whole movie, whilst outsiders come few and far between. This allows the director to keep his movie consistent in its poetry, something which he was unable to convey in more previous movies such as "Dream" or "Time", where poetry transforms into 'corniness' and the story sells itself short. Even in "The Bow" you have a couple of very awkward scenes, which didn't seem to fit and came out as forcibly placed into the movie (especially a rather awkward self-masturbation scene near the end of it all).

Nonetheless a required watch for anyone who likes a bit of Buddhist philosophy for dinner.

Reviewed by dromasca7 / 10

moral ambiguity

'The Bow' comes in the work of prolific Kim Ki-duk immediately after a series of three wonderful films - 'Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring', 'Samaritan Girl' and '3-Iron' and a few year after his other masterpiece 'The Isle'. I have somehow missed seeing it when it came out, or maybe it was not distributed in Israel. Now I caught up with the film on VoD and my impression is that it marks exactly the moment when the Korean director started a series of less successful experiments. Of course, one cannot expect even from a great director like Kim (and he is one of the best living creators in cinema) to produce only masterpieces. Hopefully he has in front of him many years of fine film making and we are here to enjoy his films.

Part of the problem with The Bow is that it repeats to some extent the format of the some of the previous successful films, taking a story of child-teenage initiation and mixing it with traditional (Buddhist I believe, but I am not very knowledgeable) concepts. So for viewers of some of his previous films, there is a strong and possibly intentional feeling of 'deja-vu', enhanced by the fact that as the story here happens in an isolated environment surrounded by water. The Old Man (Seong Hwan-jeon) is growing for the last ten years a Young Girl (beautiful Han Yeo-reum). They never speak. The only contact of the girl with the outer world is when visitors come for recreational fishing aboard, visitors from the outer world that that she may not remember. Some of them would like to abuse her but she and her protector know how to defend themselves with the help of the only weapon at hand, a traditional bow. Some other may come with better intents, as the young man who falls for the girl and tries to save and take her back to the world. But this is what she wants? This is certainly not what the old man wants, he plans to marry her when she reaches the age of 17.

There is a lot to think about and discuss around this story. Tradition faces modernity, is necessarily one better than the other? Does the girl really want to be saved? The old man may have saved an abandoned six years girl and grew her, but is he entitled to marry her and continue to control her life, to keep her isolated from the world. And is that world better than the smaller and innocent universe they were living in? His keeping the girl isolated may be judged by the world outside as kidnapping and abuse, is this the case? None of these questions have an unambiguous answer and this is not a problem, quite the contrary. Neither is acting (wonderful!) or the cinematography as good as you can expect in a film by Kim Ki-duk. The problem I have is with the final which I will not tell too many details about in order to avoid spoiling the pleasure of the viewing. There is a very strong metaphor here involving of course the bow, which produced me a shock and caused me an ambiguous feeling, not because of the visuals (I am used to much harsher things) but because of its meanings and the way it is directed and acted. For once I would have preferred a different way of ending. Kim Ki-duk decided differently.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca7 / 10

The Ki-duk we know

THE BOW is another intriguing, superbly artistic and small-scale drama from auteur Kim Ki-duk, one of my favourite directors of all time. This has similarities in plot to classics like SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER...AND SPRING and THE ISLE, but overall tells a story that is more gentle and more romantic. Essentially it's a love triangle on a fishing boat, with barely any dialogue, but Ki-duk uses the sparse plot elements to create something impossibly deep, sometimes profound, and very beautiful. The performances are spot on, particularly from the young actress who has so much on her shoulders, and the whole film is a visual treat.

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