Director: Kim Ki-duk
Cast: Ryoo Seung-Bum, Ahn Ji-Hye, Lee Won-Geun – Jin-Woo (guardian), Kim Young-Min
Language: Korean (English Subtitles)
The Net is a South Korean thriller that made its North American Premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Director Kim Ki-duk goes beyond the headlines and does an amazing job of humanizing the divide between North and South Korea. He also, at the same time, manages to highlight the downside of blind ideology.
There is a growing popular belief, with supporting evidence, that doing a Superhero or Power Pose increases your confidence and improves your performance. Some of this may be connected to people’s fascination with heroes, evidenced in everything from old parables to the modern day celebrity culture and the millions of superhero/action hero movies that come out every year. Wherever you have a hero, or protagonist, though, you have to have a villain, or antagonist, the later helping to validate the former. It’s an over simplified way of thinking that influences our ideology, how we see ourselves and view and interact with the world.
In The Net, director Kim Ki-duk uses the division between North and South Korea to explore the possible negative consequences of this simplistic view point. His protagonist Chul-Woo (Ryoo Seung-Bum) lives in North Korea and supports his wife (Ahn Ji-Hye) and young daughter as a fisherman. When his fishing net gets caught in his motorboat’s engine, he drifts over an imaginary border, created little more than 63 years ago because of idealology, into South Korea. He is forced to undergo intense, sometimes violent, interrogation carried out by a South Korean Officer (Kim Young-Min) prejudiced against him by his hate for North Koreans. Simultaneously, most of the other members of the South Korean information bureau try to “help” him by pressuring him to defect and stay in South Korea. They feel he is better off abandoning his wife and children, than returning to North Korea.
The Net is a great thriller that holds you until the end. It’s an original narrative that presents a complex view of a well-known issue, presenting equal criticism of both North and South Korea. Some of the characters and parts of the plot are predictable at times, but there are a lot of great performances, all starting with the lead, Ryoo Seung-Bum. Those not affected by its 14a rating, due to violence and some nudity, will find The Net to be an entertaining film worth visiting South Korea October 6th for its release.
Director Kim Ki-duk has been making films and winning acclaim for over 20 years. He has had multiple films featured at TIFF and other film festivals and received numerous other honors and awards.