Saturday, 22 November 2014


Kim Ki Duk takes us to one side for One on One, a nihilistic and pedantic discussion on the violence inherent in society. The character of his filmmaking finally stripped to what seems to be its barest, Kim exercises a cheap and callous form of identification with his characters and their circumstances, engaging with them in their activities. As banal as his plotline is, and as rudimentary as his supposedly incendiary commentary is too, there's an admirable purity to Kim's approach. The dialogue may reduce the principal issues here to crass indictments of politics and of the abandonment of personal responsibility that the system indirectly advocates, but the film suggests a more complex reality. An expanding web of participants casts concentric circles of guilt outwards, each implicitly questioning the origin of our violent, or vengeful, or fearful nature. Kim himself may have little of genuine substance to say on such matters, but a glance at his filmography to date reveals the validity of his concerns, and the pervasive pessimism of his current perspective. One on One represents a filmmaker utilising the tools of their trade to produce a fully self-reflexive condemnation not only of the culture in which it exists, but of said tools and said trade. Technical details are defiantly low-grade, the scuzzy digital lighting and the hollow, DTV score emphasising the disposable futility of Kim's message. One on One is a cold, unpleasant experience, but one whose purpose lies concealed within its nastiness, a richly rotten core beneath a repellent shell.