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The Best Korean Erotic Thriller movie of all time

My love for Korean movies is increasing day by day all thanks to the Corona pandemic which made me watch movies other than Indian or Hollywood. Be it Oldboy, Memories of Murder, Burning, Train to Busan and much more; some Korean movies are hidden gems which needs to gain popularity as much as the Hollywood films get. 

Today I will discuss the movie, The Handmaiden, directed by Park Chan-Wook the same director who made OLDBOY(one of my favourites film). The review and plot summary for Oldboy is the below link.

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden poster

Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast:     Lady Izumi Hideko (Min-hee) –                      Japanese Heiress
              Sook-hee/Tamako (Tae-Ri) – The.                 Handmaiden
              Count Fujiwara (Jung-woo ) – Con                Artist
              Uncle Kouzuki (Jin-Woong) –                         Izumi’s Uncle

  • IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Plot Summary

The film, which is an adaptation of the novel The Fingersmith, revolves around a woman who is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress. This is the very short summary of a film that has a lot of depth underneath the surface and requires the audience's attention throughout the film. 

Now as the movie goes on we discover the newly hired handmaiden may have some ulterior motives along with many of the other characters. Nothing is revealed too quickly and the film is split into a three-part structure that slowly pieces things together through flashbacks. The storytelling is quite similar to Tarantino's where the same scene is shown from multiple perspectives and each adds a new layer to the story. All of these devices are used to full effect and create surprising twists on par with Park Chan-wook's Oldboy.

The film is divided into three chapters, all giving a different perspective. This way, the story is perfectly structured to give more and more insight as the film moves on, but at the same time, keep the viewers blank face and guessing. It offers surprises along the way as well. Visually, it's a feast for the eyes. It was a really intriguing story that is complemented by the great craftsmanship of all those involved. 

A thriller drenched with Eroticism

One thing that Park Chan-wook did so well with Stoker was creating a beautiful feeling of sexual tension without using nudity or anything overtly sexual. In this film, he succeeds with that throughout the entire film. As I noticed many Korean movies have erotic scenes but the level and the way they displayed the erotic scenes in this movie will not let you blink your eyes for even a second.

Every look and every glance the two woman share conveys longing and desire that permeates the whole film. In this film, however, he continues that passion past suggestion into full-on sex.

There are multiple scenes with extended nudity but they are all filmed so artfully and gorgeous it always feels warranted. The scenes never feel awkward or exploitative and always are tasteful and almost poetic. Somehow despite what I was watching I still found myself admiring the camera-work and beautiful cinematography.


The photography in this movie is absolutely stunning. The landscapes are amazing and so are the indoor shots. The manipulation of colour is done masterfully as well. 

The visuals and camera work are amazing as well. I particularly loved the colours and palette, which is so vivid and bright throughout. It really is an awe-inducing movie to look at. It is certainly a brilliant adaptation of Sarah Waters’ original novel and a film about something that most other movies can only guess at pleasure and rapture.

On the other hand, the acting skills shown by all of their actors and actresses are simply flawless and amazing. I don't what is it about these Asian actors that they don't overplay nor fall into too much screaming or cheesy acting. This is something else! 

 The story is so engrossing and TIGHTLY written. The twists and turns, I can't imagine the amount of work that went into the script itself. The characters are all beautifully layered, which is only enhanced by the great actors that portray them (and it must've been some WORK to play these characters who wear masks on top of masks throughout the film). 

One of the film's strengths is its ability to seamlessly incorporate comedic elements into what could have been quite a serious movie. In a movie that involves themes such as suicide and fraud, it is hard to believe how many times it made the audience laugh out loud. Although the tone does get darker at times, the lighter moments make it just a really fun movie as well.

The film has visions of doubt, trust, and the elements of love lust and hot erotic passion is taken into new heights as the emotions brought out with Lady Hideko and Sook-Hee twist this plot and little cat and mouse game for a spin and turn that you and even the count didn't see coming. "The Handmaiden" is one powerful tale of greed, lust, sex, and hierarchy proving that unexpected emotions take over and win in the end.

I am awestruck by the cinematography of this movie. Even the set design and costume are soo detailed and beautiful. The three leads all gave terrific performances. The musical score by Yeong-wook evokes, or better said, amplifies the emotions and the suspenseful tone. Despite the run time of 2 hours and 24 minutes, it never gets dull, it's very evenly paced throughout. I couldn't look away for a second.

The Handmaiden is a tale of revenge, betrayal, sexual desire, dark humour with intense performances and thrilling storytelling. I couldn't recommend this film enough. You will fall in love with this movie

Count:       "You are mesmerising"
Hideko:     "Men use the word 'Mesmerising when they want to                           touch a woman's breast"

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  2. Korean movies are interesting... I did reviewed some Korean movies recently. Loving it.

    Use translator please .


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