Published Apr 01, 2005A misguided attempt to illuminate the darker side of "true love," Bad Guy is an only okay foray into exploring the mind and stunted emotions of its eponymous anti-hero, Han-gi.
Already unburdened from any moral conscience by a life of crime, Han-gi feels no compunction about accosting archetypical Korean schoolgirl Sun-hwa, impelled to kiss her forcibly in a crowd. His inability to restrain himself pushes him to further pursue and slowly attempt to ruin her, all through the dewy gaze of what director Kim would have us take for "l'amour foubut," which reads on the screen as mostly just "fou."
Though it is a relief that the "degraded Asian schoolgirl" motif is not the central point of Bad Guy, its nuances are all too textbook: first Sun-hwa hates her new life of sexual imprisonment, then she's chilled to it, and oh!, she learns to like it, all the while being controlled, watched and worshipped by Han-gi and his thug underlings. The nearly silent Han-gi is explored from various angles, Kim circling fruitlessly trying to make some sort of point about the purity and intensity of love that goes beyond reason and even compassion for its subject.
But compassion for the subject of the film is another thing lacking here: for all its luminescent cinematography and tender atmosphere, Bad Guy is a mixed bag of beautiful shots, sexist clichés and missing points, well-acted but unconvincingly aimed. (Mongrel Media)