"Adultery, non-stop sex, whips, sticks, bruises, cuts... who says romance is dead?"

- Mighty Peking Man

Lies (1999)

AKA: Gojitmal

Director: Jang Sun Woo

Producer: Shin Chul

Writers: Jung-Il Chang (novel), Sun-Woo Jang

Cast: Lee Sang Hyun, Kim Tae Yeon, Jeon Hye Jin, Choi Hyun Joo, Han Kwon Taek, Kwon Hyuk Poong, Jung Myung Keum, Shin Min Soo, Cho Young Sun

Running Time: 115 min.

Plot: Jang Sun Woo's highly controversial film chronicles the bizarre sexual relations of a 38 year-old married man, J, and an 18 year-old student, Y, who is intent on losing her virginity before graduation. After the initial encounter, they embark on a sexual odyssey toward the realms of obsession and sadomasochism. No common love affair, theirs tests the limits of both body and mind. Intense desires drive them into a relationship that revolves around pain, pleasure, and unavoidable lies. As J's sexual needs take on addictive dimensions, Y begins to draw back. Insecurities, doubts, and indiscretions begin to weigh on a love that once knew no limits.

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MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: "Y" (Kim Tae Yeon) is an 18-year old girl who wants to lose her virginity before she graduates high school. She meets "J" (Lee Sang Hyun), a 38-year old *married* artist who takes interest in Y's needs. Together, the letter-named pair create a world of their own and fill it with a sexual fantasy that goes beyond the realm of the senses (pun definitely intended). Adultery, non-stop sex, whips, sticks, bruises, cuts... who says romance is dead?

"Lies" is filmed in a raw, guerrilla-documentary style - which instantly stands out and hints that this is not just a softcore sex film, but an arthouse extravaganza. At times, the director pokes fun at the realism with first person narratives; as well as a hint of direct communication from the characters to the viewers. Despite the fact that there is no visual penetration or bodily fluid contact, the sex scenes come out more candid than even a full-blown pornographic film. In fact, some of it makes you feel as if the couple are doing their thing a few inches away from you. It'll tend to make you feel guilty and practically embarrassed for watching; but the moment you realize this, you'll come to terms with yourself as you remember that it's only a movie. And an extremely kinky one, at that.

I'm probably not giving this film the credit it deserves when it comes to artistic merit. This one goes way over the sexual limits that it's hard to define the quality of the film's initial basis. The critics loved it, it played in many respected film festivals and has been compared with Nagisa Oshima's acclaimed erotic classic "In the Realm of the Senses" - yet to me, the intense sexual content is what stands out the most. Not to say there's nothing good about the film other than it's X-rated-like content, what we see just sticks out more.

The performances by Kim Tae Yeon and Lee Sang Hyun are first-rate. The film itself is an unbelievable ride through the rougher road of erotica. "Lies" is definitely worth seeing for fans of this genre - but personally I prefer the softer tones and surrealism of Yeo Kyun-Dong's "La Belle".