Recently made a double-feature out of two of Ki-Duk Kim's most recent films. I've been a fan of his work in the past, including Samaritan Girl and Spring Summer Fall Winter... and Spring Again and especially 3-Iron. Both of these were released in his native Korea in 2006 and got a DVD release stateside last year.

The Bow tells the strange story of an old man and young girl living on a fishing vessel in the ocean. The backstory is slowly revealed-- that the man found the girl as an orphan at 6 years of age and plans to make her his bride on her 17th birthday. The film is slow to clarify whether she is being held against her will, whether there is a case of "Stockholm Syndrome" afoot, or whether something deeper is keeping them together on the boat. The film has a gentle, hypnotic quality that is sustained throughout a running time that doesn't overstay its welcome at 90 minutes. Kim tells the story with a modicum of dialogue (the two main characters have no audible lines at all) which suits the poetic tone, and the surprising ending is memorable if nothing else.

Time is a much different film. Although there's a ton more expository dialogue than in The Bow, the end result is much less coherent. The story revolves a couple whose relationship has lost its spark after two years. In a bout of either insanity or desperation, the woman decides to undergo plastic surgery to radically alter her appearance in order to start a brand new romance with the same man and recapture those early fleeting feelings of exhilaration. Of course, questions of identity and even fidelity (although she is actually the same woman) come into play. Overall, it's an interesting premise, but most of the dialogue is soap-opera level and the tone is often confusing or hysterical. It doesn't diminish Kim's other films, but it certainly throws the strengths of his more deliberate approach in them into sharper relief.

While The Bow isn't my favorite of his films that I've seen, it would be a decent entry point into his work for the uninitiated. Time is best left only to those with an intense academic interest in his development.