The Bow – DVD Review

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Kim Ki-Duk


Jeon Sung-Hwan Old Man
Han Yeo-Reum The Young Girl
Seo Ji-Seok The Student

DVD Release Date: June 12, 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 90 Minutes

The Movie

In life there are times when words are not necessary to get what you want to say across. A slight movement of the head or a simple smile can say more then a thousand books put together could ever describe. Such is the relationship one young girl has with an old man aboard the ship on which they live.

A sixty year old man has raised a small girl since she was six years old. Together they have lived on his fishing boat for over a decade as she is now almost seventeen. And on the moment she turns seventeen (legal), he has plans on taking her to be his wife. The girl is very happy with her life on the boat for she knows no other ways of the world or what is beyond the waters she sails on everyday. The old man is also very protective of his girl and will do anything to keep her safe.

Everyday he rides their smaller boat inland and finds some fisherman to come aboard his vessel and try to get a good catch. Unfortunately they can’t seem to keep their eyes or hands off of the young girl and always insist on trying to have their way with her. That is when the old man steps in with a well-placed arrow that just happened to miss, but surely wouldn’t again. And even if some hoodlums find a way to overpower him; the young girl has more then enough skills of her own with a bow to take care of herself.

She is content with what she has and how her days go by and her relationship with the old man is so incredibly strong that nothing could possibly stand between them. They never speak a word to each other and only need communicate through motions or the beautiful music they produce by making their weapons (bows) into fantastic instruments. Another way they make money also shows the complete trust they have in each other. She swings on a small swing on the side of the boat as he shoots arrows into an image of a Buddha. The girl then takes out the arrows, whispers something to the old man, and he whispers the fisherman’s fortunes to them.

Life is complete and perfect for the happy couple until the day a young student comes aboard to fish. He is close to the girl’s age and even shares with her his headphones and music player so she can hear some new sounds. As he leaves, the music payer is a gift to the girl so she can continue to enjoy the music she never hears. The old man will not have it as she must only listen to the music he plays the do as he says. But with her curiosity now aroused and the student a bit enamored of her, things seem due for a change.

While the film was exceptionally well done and told a great story, it did not my expectations for it considering all the good things I had heard. Call me unappreciative or not artistic or whatever insult you may throw my way, but any film where there isn’t much speaking is quite boring. That isn’t to say that all of them are because that long stretch in Cast Away where not a single word is uttered was wonderfully done. But there was also more going on. Watching the young girl and the old man not say a word and just hang out on a boat wasn’t too intriguing. Also considering that everyone else who came on screen was talking their heads off.

Overall it is a good story that deals with a lot of touchy subjects such as prostitution, molestation, and so to speak kidnapping. They are done well and tastefully though so as to fit in with the overall mood of the story. Nothing is done in a graphic nature and most of it is simply implied of course because of the lack of speaking from the main characters. And speaking of the main characters, it was rather hard to feel much for them because we were thrust right into the middle of their lives. What is learned about their past comes from the stories of fisherman who spend a day on their boat. Another ten or fifteen minutes could have really made this film much better although it was still a pleasure to watch.

The Video

The film is shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and looks excellent. All the colors are very bright and crisp to the point where you are actually outside looking directly at the sunlight gleaming off of the water.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and comes through beautifully. All dialogue, which isn’t much, comes through clearly, loudly, and with accurate subtitles. Everything from a bird cawing to the water lapping up against the side of the boat sounds perfect as well. One slight problem I found was that whenever the old man or young girl would play music on the bow, it never seemed to be in sync with their movements. Now I believe this may have been intentional simply because the music often played in the background anyway when they weren’t making it. But it never ceased to stop bugging me when the music would play and their movements didn’t match up to the sound.

Special Features

The Making Of The Bow – The director and cast give their thoughts on the film and how it was making it. That is virtually it. The director actually pimps a lot of his own films throughout talking about The Bow and then finally gets into talking about the boat they found to film on and the message he was trying to get across. It is interesting hearing him talk about the people of his culture trying to get away from the stereotypes of prostitution, but it is hard to because it has been in existence for such a long time. Coming in at thirty-five minutes, it is a featurette is well worth watching.

Photo Gallery – A lot of still frames from the film and some are quite beautiful. A short feature but should definitely be checked out.

Original Theatrical Trailer

TrailersThe Hidden Blade, The Coast Guard, and The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu

The Inside Pulse

The Bow is exceptional to look at and even better to listen to. The music creates the moods of the film where dialogue is very sparse and showcases the story in a way that many words could not explain. Of course the problem persists that it tends to get a bit dull in the first thirty minutes especially and losing interest right off the bat is not a good thing. But if you wait it out, things do improve making for an enjoyable film. The special features are quite bare even though the “making of” featurette was very deep and told a lot about the creation of the film. Well worth a rental and you can make your purchasing decision from that point on, but don’t rush right out to pick up your own copy without testing it first.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Bow
(OUT OF 10)