"All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable film, albeit dreary and lonely."
Director: Oh Seung-Wuk
Producer: Cha Seung-Jae
Cast: Park Shin-Yang, Ahn Seong-Gi, Jeong Eun-Pyo
Running Time: 103 min.
Plot: See review below.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: If Takeshi Kitano were born Korean, I think he might have made a movie something like Kilimanjaro. It had a feel very reminiscent of his classic Hana-bi. Mount Kilimanjaro is the world's tallest free-standing mountain, when you see it you notice that it stands alone. Loneliness, isolation, and even despair, these are words I think of when I see Mount Kilimanjaro, and these are words that describe the movie Kilimanjaro like a glove.
The story starts with poor, out-of-work Lee Hae-chul (Park Shin-yang) in a room with his twin brother, police investigator Lee Hae-shik (also Park Shin-yang), tied-up, beaten and drifting in and out of consciousness, and Hae-chul's children. Shots ring out, and the kids are dead. Hae-chul wakes his brother up long enough for him to witness a final act of Hae-chul's desperation, eating a bullet. After being recused from the investigation, and suspended for six months under suspicion not investigating honestly as the suspect was his brother, Hae-shik decides to head back to the town where the brothers grew up. Once back, he is mistaken for his brother who left after angering many people. Luckily, he happens upon his brother's former closest friend (and gang leader), Thunder (Ahn Sung-ki), who gets him out of the immediate trouble he finds himself in. While never telling Thunder that he's actually Hae-shik, he doesn't bother correcting him when he's assumed to be Hae-chul, because, I suspect, he actually feels accepted. This is my interpretation of it, because throughout the entire movie there is an overwhelming feel of Hae-shik being completely alone.
The isolation and dreariness is laid on in bulk, using a number of highly effective methods. The first is the music, which was absolutely amazing. The soundtrack was probably my favorite aspect of this movie. It was dramatic, strong, and emoted loneliness just perfectly. The other method was the use of weather. The movie took place during winter, and just watching it on screen could almost chill you to the bone. Perhaps one must be from a part of the world that gets very cold during the winter, as I am, to understand this. But, after a freshly fallen snow, when there's little traffic on the road because people are all cuddling up at home, walking around outside is usually very quiet, with the crisp air and the crunch of snow underfoot and a full moon overhead, you can feel more alone and tranquil than ever. In the movie, the snow on the ground, the frost on every surface, and the breath hanging in the air all reminded me of being home in Wisconsin on a cold, lonely, winter night.
These are what gave off the vibe of something I'd expect in a Kitano film, which is completely satisfying. The movie wasn't nearly as violent (at least all the way through) as one would expect, with my having compared this to a Kitano film, but the tension is all there. It builds and builds through the entire film, until the end when it releases explosively.
The only reason I didn't enjoy this movie more is because the DVD I was viewing was full screen and had the most horrendous subtitles I've ever read. I really wish the subtitles would have been better, because I expect that if I could have followed the story a bit better I would have enjoyed the movie even more. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable film, albeit dreary and lonely.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 7/10 (could have been an 8 or even a 9/10 if the subtitles hadn't been so terrible)