Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28

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Critic Reviews

  1. Quiet, mysterious, sometimes violent, ultimately close to sublime.
  2. Alternately witty, caustic, tender and endlessly imaginative and unpredictable.
  3. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Despite its cargo of meaning, 3-Iron feels marvelously weightless, like the lovers as they stand on a scale that the hero has fixed.
  4. The insinuating quality of 3-Iron is irresistible.
  5. 88
    This enigmatic and in some ways maddening motion picture has the power to haunt every viewer it reaches.
  6. 83
    Creates a thoroughly curious combination of tension and eroticism.
  7. 80
    It's a love story without all the verbal hooey and it hits harder than most.
  8. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    A rarefied love story, conducted with no dialogue between the principals.
  9. 80
    3-Iron gains its hypnotic power by observing these characters through a slight remove. With total command of his effects, Kim transforms an already peculiar romance into something as otherworldly as a ghost story.
  10. A teasing, self-conscious and curiously heartfelt demonstration of his (Mr. Kim) mischievous formal ingenuity.
  11. 80
    The illicit lovers in this eerie South Korean drama communicate whole worlds without ever speaking.
  12. It's a film that will stay with you.
  13. It sounds high-minded, but 3-Iron is in fact simple and economical, blessedly straighforward, absorbing, and hard to forget.
  14. 75
    Kim's wittiest effort to date, with a wordless performance by Jae Hee that recalls Keaton and Chaplin.
  15. 3-Iron is like a Raymond Carver story that slowly, inexorably takes on the dimensions of a ghostly fairy tale.
  16. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Dreamlike and the slightest bit precious, the film is a beautiful, over-cultivated hothouse flower.
  17. The sooner you let yourself go with Kim's flow, the more likely you are to come away satisfied. Think of it as South Korea's answer to "Memento," just don't think too hard.
  18. Original, imaginative and stylish.
  19. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    Taut even when ridiculous, with flashes of comedy, 3-Iron has less to offer than its predecessors, but at minimum it's the playful exhaustion of a formal constraint.
  20. 70
    The almost supernatural turn which Kim's lovely film takes during its final act, however, is totally unexpected, and just one reason why Kim ranks as one of the most justly celebrated talents in contemporary Korean cinema.
  21. It's actually quite satisfying, in a weird, magical-realism sort of way that manages to disturb and confound as much as it appeases the romantic.
  22. As a writer-director, he's (Kim Ki-Duk) a wizard with the camera but a plebe with a pen. His latest, 3-Iron, continues the frustrating trend.
  23. The result is slightly less interesting and less appealing even as arthouse fare.
  24. 3-Iron is at times deliciously sensual, creepily somnolent, whimsically spiritual and disturbingly violent. But it is never quite coherent.
  25. Reviewed by: Steve O'Hagan
    A compelling, if obscure, experience with evocative scene-setting and dreamy atmosphere.
  26. There is a vengeance motif that is worked out in a way that is both emotionally satisfying and completely unbelievable.
  27. 30
    As repellent and repellently opportunistic a piece of work as the various shock-horror provocations (The Isle, The Coast Guard) that helped to launch this worrisome career (Kim Ki-Duk).

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. M.Daye
    Feb 4, 2006
    Though it may discard prolix dialogue in favour of visuals, it is almost impossible to find yourself not moved in the slightest by the end.
  2. Mar 29, 2012
    Simply brilliant script great. Spectacular sound track, in short, a masterpiece of South Korean cinema. I recommend all the films of KimSimply brilliant script great. Spectacular sound track, in short, a masterpiece of South Korean cinema. I recommend all the films of Kim Ki-duk, especially ''Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring'' (2003) Full Review »
  3. DeniseB.
    Feb 17, 2007
    The premise was good so I watched it and was keenly dissapointed. It was slow with very little dialouge.