Directed by: Ki-duk Kim.
Written by: Ki-duk Kim.
Starring: Jae-hyeon Jo (Father), Eun-woo Lee (Mother/Mistress), Young-ju Seo (Son).
I have to admit, I really do not understand the appeal of Korean director Ki-duk Kim. He has had a fairly long, prolific career – where he has won awards at some of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and has received fairly positive reviews throughout his career – and yet, I cannot think of one of his films that I have not hated. His films are filled with young, psychopathic characters, who Kim seems to think are misunderstood outsiders deserving of our sympathy. His films are full of brutal violence, depraved, incestuous sex – and yet instead of being an exploitation director, like some of his countrymen, he takes everything way too seriously – and many have followed along. After last year’s Pieta – which I despised – I had pretty much decided to ignore new films from him – I was done. But when I heard the premise of Moebius – I decided to give him another chance. There is no way in hell that even Ki-duk Kim could take a movie with multiple penises being cut off too seriously. He had to be making some sort of silly exploitation movie – which I think, should he want to, he could actually pull off. Sadly, while Moebius is surely silly throughout – once again, Kim seems to be taking everything too seriously – that he believes he is saying something profound about masculinity and sexuality. He isn’t.
The best thing about Moebius is that the movie contains absolutely no dialogue. That’s good, because there are few writers who write worse dialogue than Kim. The movie is about one screwed up family (which may not in fact be the most screwed up in Kim’s filmography). The father (Jae-hyeon Jo) is having an affair – and when his wife (Eun-woo Lee) finds out about it, she is angry. She tries to cut off her husband’s penis – but he’s smart enough to run away before she can get it done. So, she decides to get back at her husband in the only logical way imaginable – by cutting off their son’s penis. The husband tries to get it back from her, so it can re-attached (one assumes), but fails – because she eats it. The fathers mistress – also played by Eun-woo Lee by the way – is gang raped by a gang of youth – including the son, who simply mimes rape, since he’s missing a penis, and decides to get revenge on the leader of that group by – you guessed – chopping off his penis (this leads to a rather funny sequences, with a penis thrown into the middle of the street, and people fighting to get there before it gets run over). Meanwhile, the Father starts looking into ways men can get sexual satisfaction without a penis – and comes across some sort of abrasion masturbation –which in most movies would lead to the ickiest scenes, but no so here. He also decides to have his own penis surgically removed to donate to his son – who has been the subject of much mockery at school. But his penis seems to have a mind of his own – and once attached to the son, will not become erect, unless it’s for his mother.
Now, if Kim had decided to simply make an insane, ridiculous, silly exploitation film – than perhaps Moebius could have worked. I mean, you just read the brief outlined I wrote – is there anyway that you think this movie could possibly take itself seriously. Sadly, that is what Kim tries to do. He seems to believe that his scenes about abrasion masturbation, and the various penises being cut off adds up to some sort of statement on male sexuality. At least, he attempts to depict something with the male sexuality – the female characters, both played by the same woman, are simply there to cut off penises, have sex, get raped and otherwise just get used and abused by the men in the film. Kim has long since outed himself as a misogynist – and this probably isn’t even his worst example of it – but it’s pretty damn sickening anyway.
The movie does work –in fits and starts – when it just goes purely over the top – like that scene with the penis being thrown into trouble. And at least without dialogue, I didn’t roll my eyes as much as I did when watching Pieta – or some of his other films. The best thing I can say about Moebius, is that I think I may well like it more than I have any other Ki-duk Kim film. The worst thing is that even if that’s true, it’s still an awful film – one of the worst of the year.