Owen Gleiberman
February 23, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bad Guy

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
103 minutes
Limited Release Date
02/18/05
performer
Cho Je-Hyun, Seo Won
director
Kim Ki-Duk
distributor
Lifesize
author
Kim Ki-Duk
genre
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it a C-

What are we to make of the brooding central hooligan in Bad Guy? His name is Han-gi (Cho Je-Hyun), and he starts out by sexually assaulting a willowy college student (Seo Won) and then forcing her to work at a brothel. Once there, she sits alongside the other, hardened hookers at a windowed facade and forlornly takes customers, while Han-gi, in secret, views her activities from behind a one-way mirror. Despite its sleazy setup, the movie is punishingly sexless and diffuse. That’s a surprise, too, coming from the South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk, whose Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring was enlightened enough to confront the violent — and erotic — side of a monk’s progress. In Bad Guy, which was actually made in 2001, Han-gi’s victim despises what she’s doing, and so, apparently, does Han-gi, as he stares at her degradation in impotent agony. Really, who needs a bad guy who’s this guilty about being bad?

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