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Breath

 Unrated   DVD

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Product Details

  • Format: Collector's Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • Release Date: Nov. 22 2011
  • ASIN: B0052XU4BU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,441 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Dysfunction Courtesy Of The Bad Boy Auteur Of Contemporary Korean Cinema Aug. 23 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has a unique and disturbing way at getting to the core of complex and dysfunctional relationships. His "Bad Guy" is one of my favorite character pieces. Unrelentingly dark and extremely brutal, the film is a masterwork of nightmarish psychological suspense. 2007's "Breath" continues with many of the same challenging themes. Told very simplistically, this grim tale of obsession and compulsion has moments of tender sweetness amidst a very unhealthy central romance. Painting characters that are unrepentantly selfish, the film miraculously manages to make these thoroughly unlikable individuals compelling and oftentimes sympathetic. It's like a high-wire act that is balanced to precision and the film, while often distasteful or uncomfortable, is impossible to turn away from. I don't know that I loved "Breath" but I sure won't forget it! That, in itself, is reason enough to make this an easy recommendation for adult audiences.

The central characters are a suicidal death row inmate and a dissatisfied (and betrayed) housewife. When news of the inmate is televised, the young lady feels drawn to seek out a re-connection with the condemned man. The two had known each other in more innocent times, and visiting her former flame pulls her further away from an adulterous husband. Upon each visit, she sets an elaborate stage with flowers, wall treatments, and music to create an idealized oasis away from reality. The two become more and more intertwined, and yet each much ultimately confront the truth of their situation. The bond they share is alternately tender and creepy and the film uses this incongruity to create an almost hyper-real environment.

This sparse and straightforward film (it is only 84 minutes) doesn't rely on visual pyrotechnics or fancy effects--it moves up close to its human subjects in almost invasive ways. Intensely personal, but also emotionally aloof, "Breath" almost embraces a moral ambiguity. I think that it will affect different viewers in different ways and the narrative is open-ended enough to allow your own conclusion. I know that I've made the film sound bleak and depressing, but it is also infused with an unexpectedly macabre humor. The film is unpredictable and original. It may be a challenge, but it's a trip worth taking. I don't think, ultimately, the film is for everyone--but those that appreciate it, I suspect will really admire its achievement. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 8/11.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Life is a silent, oppressive weight, suffocating individuals until they can only react' Aug. 23 2011
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Ki-Duk Kim has done it again. The South Korean writer/director is best known universally through his 2003 minimalist, Buddhism-inspired fable 'Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring' and once again he demonstrates that with very minimal resources he can create a story at once complex and compelling in this new film BREATH. Not only are his ideas for film unique in the technical aspects, his concept of telling a story is always surprisingly subtle.

Jang Ji (Chen Chang) is on death row in a Korean prison for the murder of his family. He shares the bleak cell with three other prisoners, one of whom (In-Hyeong Gang) is young and obviously in love with and is very possessive of Jian Ji. Jian Ji attempts suicide and the media focuses on the transfer of the prisoner to the hospital where he barely survives his self-inflicted stab wound to the throat. One woman on the outside, Yeon (Zia - or Ji-a Park) watches the coverage on the media in silence (: she is married to a man (Jung-Woo Ha) who apparently is having an extramarital affair and pays little attention to her, finding Yeon's obsession with the prisoner 's exposure in the media this foolish and repulsive. They have a young daughter who observes the lack of interaction between her parents. Yeon is a sculptor and quietly works at her art, watching the coverage of Jian-Ji's plight. Something in her relates to the prisoner and she begins making trips to the prison where she sets up the visitor room with wall photographs, paintings and flower props that look like Spring. It is in this atmosphere that she meets the handcuffed Jian Ji and there is obvious exchanged compassion between them. She returns to the prison, each time to visit Jian Ji in a room she has transformed to Summer and to Autumn and with each visit she sings a seasonal song of love to him. The relationship becomes physical: of note, in a room behind one way glass a prison official (Ki-duk Kim himself, as though he were directing the romance) observes the trysts. Yeon finds evidence, a broach, of her husband's affair and confronts him: the husband explores the reason Yeon visits the prison and follows her, observing her passion behind the one way mirror. The husband parts with his lover, demanding Yeon do the same, and the last visit to the prison is a Winter scene where Jian-Ji and Yeon consummate their passion. The ending is a surprise to all and sharing that would spoil the effect of the film: the key is in the title.

Ki-Duk Kim weaves so many subliminal aspects into this film, a technique few other directors can match. He explores alienation, contemporary relationships between husbands and wives, prison tensions that result in other kinds of relationships, and again uses the cycle of season changes to mark the steps of his story. His cast is small and incredibly fine. This is a very small film with a very big message. It is a gem. Grady Harp, August 11
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Movie. Sept. 3 2013
By Mitch H - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Korean Entertainment at its finest... Really thought it was interesting the concept. I think I will recommend this to my Korean friends.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath Of Fresh Air Nov. 25 2012
By Pet Nemo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Kim Ki-Duk makes art house watchable. At least there is an interesting premise. I mean, there's another film (not Kim's) where the character just sat in the park for 20 minutes - to illustrate isolation and loneliness.

This offering from Kim pairs a prisoner on death row who develops a relationship with a female visitor.

Breath is simple yet dexterous in its visual execution. It mixes the non-speaking roles (the protagonist Jin and his cell mates) with the verbal ones (the female lead Yeon and her family).

The prisoners did an admirable job conveying emotions through gestures, body language and facial expressions. The homosexual cell mate of Jin alternates between tenderness, desire, despair, jealousy, protectiveness, possessiveness and murderous hatred for his unrequited efforts.

In stark contrast to the sombre prison scenes are the parts where Yeon visits Jin. The walls are brightly decorated according to the seasons and she does cute cheery songs for him.

One of the things Breath does best is to explore impossible relationships - perhaps an unintended didactic message. You have the husband's fling, the spurned cell mate and Yeon investing so much effort on a condemned convict instead of her own marriage.

The will to live and the will to die is best expressed in the central character. Initially, Jin attempts suicide because there is nothing to live for. However, when told by Yeon's husband that she will not be coming any more, he tries to end his life again.

The day before his execution, Yeon pays a final visit where they make love as sort of a farewell. After climax, she tries to suffocate him. Perhaps, Yeon who herself was dead for five minutes as a child tried to give Jin a taste of dying. Or she could be protesting against him for killing his family. But Jin's will to live was so strong that he pushed her away despite being handcuffed.

As in Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... And Spring, the director himself makes an appearance here as a prison guard.

The ending comes as a surprise. It's a masterful cinematic contrast of both happy and sad. What I can reveal here is what Jin's cell mates did to and for him, they did it to save him from a more terrible fate at the gallows. I was simply stunned but glad that it did not leave any unanswered questions. I'll leave you to it.

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