I often cite Kim Ki-Duk as one of my favourite contemporary directors, partly because of his prolificacy, and his remarkable command of extreme emotions. While I absolutely adore the "new-wave" Kim Ki-Duk (3-Iron, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...And Spring, The Bow), I also thoroughly enjoy his earlier, grittier films (The Isle, Address Unknown). This film, his debut, is possibly the best and grittiest of the early films.
In a setting that stands somewhere between urban and rural, and filled with Kim Ki-Duk's beloved water motif, we see three misfits (a boy, the title character Crocodile and an elderly man) inexplicably living together on a platform under a bridge. Crocodile is an aggressive character with the shortest of fuses, and who storms around as if the world owes him something. But there's another side to him – intercuts show him diving in the nearby river for respite. When a young woman is seen drowning in the river, Crocodile rushes to her aid, only to expect a lot in return. Horrified by her treatment, she nonetheless returns frequently to bond with the old man and the young boy who remains uninfluenced by Crocodile's irascible nature. Soon she becomes a fixture and it all looks to be coming together for the group, until the gripping climax which changes the lives of all four characters forever.
The photography may be a little crude for some viewers, and the behaviour of Crocodile too brutal, but overall the film is a striking work, and one not easily forgotten.