Crocodile (Ag-o)

((summary taken from IMDB))

Violent thug Crocodile lives under a bridge by the Han River in Seoul together with a peddling boy and a homeless old man. Crocodile saves a beautiful young woman Hyun-Jung from suicide by drowning, but only to use her for sex. Yet, for some reason the woman, betrayed by her lover, stays with Crocodile, and a peculiar family-like friendship forms between the four homeless people. Crocodile gets in ever deeper trouble because of his mindlessly violent temper, and eventually Hyun-Jung decides to attempt suicide again.

My Rating:

I’m attempting to watch every movie by my two favorite Asian directors, Kim Ki-Duk (Korean) and Sono Sion (Japanese). In the very least, it should be interesting to see how far I get, and whether or not I find them all online. (Apparently, Sono Sion's films are EXTREMELY hard to find... and trust me, I've been looking!)

Anyway, I began with Kim Ki-Duk’s very first directorial debut, Crocodile (Ag-o). This movie is not for the faint of heart—though, anyone already familiar with his work, would probably know this already. But Crocodile in particular includes themes and situations that not everyone will be comfortable with—rape, violent abuse, just to name a few.

Crocodile was Kim Ki-Duk’s directorial debut, and one of the most hauntingly disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the only subtitles available at the moment were really bad—they’re based off the Italian hard subs, which (I have a feeling) weren’t very accurate to begin with. Because of this, I’m afraid I had a hard time understanding all the details of what was going on—the main story was easy enough to follow, but it left me with a lot of questions that suitable English subtitles would’ve probably fixed.
There were many powerful images in this film that will stay with you long after the movie is over. For me, oddly enough, it was the turtle shell that Crocodile painted blue, along with many of the shots taken underwater. I don’t claim to be smart, or even pretend to have the capacity to fully understand everything I watch, but one thing I enjoy doing is seeing what I can take away from a movie after it’s over… not try and guess what I’m expected to think and feel. 

As for the turtle, here is my own personal interpretation, though I don’t claim it’s accurate or even highly likely. By painting the turtle’s shell blue, I think Crocodile was imitating the earlier scene where the little boy was making colorful paper boats and setting them loose on the river—the boy told his grandfather that one of them may actually reach the ocean. By turning a living animal into a boat by proxy, maybe Crocodile hoped it would have a better chance of escaping the river—after all, turtles on land are naturally slow, but in water they can swim extremely fast. Yet, the sad thing is, at the very end of the movie, the blue turtle is still there, swimming in his underwater home… unable to escape, just like Crocodile. 

Of course, another obvious interpretation is that Crocodile was just being cruel, and thought it would be fun to paint the turtle, lol.
With Crocodile, I felt a variety of things: disgust, anger, sadness, pity. He really is just what his name implies—he prefers the ‘home’ he’s created in the water over the life he’s living above; he’s quick to anger and often violent; he’s territorial with his family and with his home; he acts without thinking, and has no qualms taking on those who are stronger or more powerful than him. Even the way he moves is very reptilian: close to the ground, sliding back and forth as he crawls. His life is such a pitiful existence, it’s hard not to feel pity and regret for the life he leads. Like he says:

“Those small paper boats remind me that my destiny is shit!"

Every character was fascinating—I especially liked the little boy and the grandfather. The little boy acted exactly like a little kid would: he had a small attention span at times, was more interested in buying candy than helping make money, and wasn’t afraid to constantly test Crocodile’s authority. At first, I was scared at how daring the little boy could be… several times, I was afraid Crocodile would beat him unconscious. But again, that just goes to show how close they were as a family. When it came down to it, they didn’t have anyone else—all they had was each other. It really made me question the meaning of family; the roles people play within them; and the bonds that draw people together.
I’m not sure if the three men were actually family by blood or if they were all homeless people that sort of came together because of necessity… the way they treat one another could suggest either, really. I don’t think it’s supposed to matter either way though... family is family. In the end, blood has little to do with it.

I also found it interesting how the roles within the family were reversed. Despite the grandfather’s age, Crocodile comes across as the leader—they tiptoe around him, as if afraid of incurring his wrath. Oddly enough, it’s only when the woman enters their ‘family’ that they start taking a more active role in standing up to Crocodile—and Crocodile himself starts acting more human. Ironically enough, it’s also her entrance into the family that sets off a series of events that disrupts their way of life, ultimately leading to their demise. 

I have very little to say about the romance… it was disturbing and wrong in so many ways. It was easy enough to understand where they were both coming from… why they were drawn to each other. But it didn’t make it any easier to watch or condone. In the end though, I think his feelings really were genuine.

The ending scene is very poetic and beautiful. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get that image out of my mind…

…That poor boy.


  1. Great!

  2. Why she decide to suicide the second time?


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