Bad Guy


Exploitation filmmaking doesn't get much more arty than this grubby Asian romance set in a rundown brothel.

After spying beautiful college girl Sun-hwa (Seo Won) on the streets of Seoul, mute thug Han-ki (Jo Jae-hyeon) decides to kidnap her and put her to work in one of the city's red-light brothels. Spying on his terrified catch through a two-way mirror as she's raped by her clients and abused by her bitchy fellow sex-workers, Han-ki slowly falls in love with her.

An adolescent tale full of inarticulate longing overlaid with a dark and moody trip-hop soundtrack, Bad Guy is likely to leave feminists outraged and censors appalled by its callous, off-hand treatment of its put-upon heroine. If you can put aside its dubious sexual politics, though, it's also an aching, haunting love story, a dark nightmare of amour fou taken to delirious extreme.

Putting the film together with a painter's eye for tone and colour, Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk transforms the city's backstreets into a garish collection of deep reds and flickering neon striplights. He also, vitally, captures the crazed desire of his two protagonists as they discover that love really is a many splendoured thing.

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