(aka "Bad Guy"or "Nabbeun namja" )


directed by Kim Ki-Duk
Korea 2001


This may well be one of the most perverted love stories ever. Han-ki is the local tough guy in a red light district and as he one day sees Son-hwa, a collage student, look at him and smile, he has to have her. Kissing her, she returns his kiss with slapping him. To make her pay, he lures her into a situation where she has to sign a letter of debt, by which she then is forced into prostitution.

The character of Han-ki is a simple as they come. He does two things, he either sits and watches or he hits someone. He never speaks. At the end, Kim reveals to us why Han-ki never speaks. Having a high pitch (almost mouse like) squeaking voice would doubtless make him the target for ridicule and that is the one thing you cannot afford in this part of town. So in order to survive, Han-ki never speaks and just hits anyone in sight. The repression of shame is one of the many aspects of Kim’s auteurism, all noting towards guilt.

While the story raised some logical questions, for instance has the parents contacted the police about the disappearance of their daughter?, the sheer force of the story makes us ignore such lapses. The story is so perverted and so strong, that we have to keep looking. Equally critical is the notion, that Son-hwa becomes accustomed to being a prostitute, which made feminists attack the film as misogynistic. And one has to acknowledge these critics, as they have become part of Kim’s auteurism. When you openly create political incorrect images, when you openly seek to provoke and attack conventions, the critic against you becomes part of the oeuvre.

Compared to the rest of Kim’s films, “Bad Guy” stands out as one of his best, and approaching him by auteurism by the motif of guilt and shame, it may well be the key work, as the characters emotions are so singular and the setting almost is mythical. By normal approach, “Bad Guy” is a perverted uncompromising love story, with an inner of intense beauty and love. Films like this are rare and must be treasured.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: November 11, 2001 (Pusan International Film Festival)

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DVD Review: Tartan - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:42:40

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.90 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s


NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Korean, 5.1 Dolby Digital Korean, DTS Korean
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Kim Ki Duk (English subtitle available)
• Making of 'Bad Guy' featurette (6:23)
• Cho Jaehyun interview (7:34)
• Soe Won interview (6:46)
• Choi Duk Moon interview (6:06)
• Kim Jeong Young interview (5:44)
• Kim Yoon Tae interview (5:23)
• Original theatrical trailer (2:04)
• Asia Extreme Trailer Reel: The Eye, Internal Affairs, Battle Royale, Audition, Dark Waters, A Snake

DVD Release Date: July 26, 2004
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Chapters 16

Comments This is more or less a R2 version of the Korean R3 "Special Edition", missing a few of the extras, like staff interviews, but having a DTS track added. Given that few Korean DVDs have English subtitles on their native audio commentaries, this may well be the, for the moment, definitive version of "Bad Guy".

Note: The title image is simply one of the first images, as there is no "title" as such.

 - Henrik Sylow


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