239) One On One (2014)
Seven suspects in the brutal murder of a young schoolgirl fall prey to seven mysterious figures determined to see them suffer in this harrowing crime drama from director Kim Ki-duk (Pieta, Arirang).
7/10 – A solid outing from Kim Ki-Duk, but as other reviewers have pointed out this is perhaps a more reserved attempt for this director when you compare it to his previous work. Saying that, I haven’t seen Pieta, Moebius or Crocodile so I have nothing to compare this to. Whereas others went into this film expecting the typical Korean revenge type of thriller, others went in expecting something messed up on a level with his previous work, I went in with no expectations at all and was satisfied with what I saw. Other reviews have criticised the ‘sloppy script’ or the ‘weak cinematography’ and justified those points by stating that it was all filmed in 2 weeks and shot on handheld cameras. Fact is, if you didn’t know those points going into it you wouldn’t be looking to find fault in those areas. I often think sometimes people look for faults in a film just to be different and interesting.
The film itself plods along in a repetitive state, switching between each character/suspect, and the repetitive nature of the film is done on purpose to signify the routine of their existence. The abduction and torture scenes are light by Korean standards, although there were many gasps in the audience and some squirming at certain points. Combine those two together and it’s difficult to try and get a point across in a subtle way in light of the content. The point in this instance focussed on the social indifference within Korea, the collateral damage associated to those who succeed and what the repercussions are on an individual basis. The repetition and slow night scenes meant that when it broke away from that framework we had become accustomed to, the many messages it was trying to convey were infrequent, obvious and felt a little too forced.
Overall, it does have a point. But the point I got from it was, “what’s the point?”. There is no bad or good divide, those lines are blurred. Sometimes there isn’t an immediate explanation for the actions, and this film looks to question that but finds no answer. On a basic level, it was an intriguing thriller but a dash of subtlety and a clearer consistent theme would have helped.