From the God-like, wide-open spaces of his Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk takes us into the teeming city of Seoul with 3-Iron. Here, Tae-suk (Jae Hee) delivers restaurant menus to various temporarily deserted homes he makes a habit of breaking into. He explores the lives and possessions of their inhabitants, and also, by way of payment, does their laundry. His picaresque solitary sojourning is interrupted when he encounters Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon), a shy young wife he rescues from her abusive husband. Together, they go on Tae-suk's rounds and a kind of love blossoms between them, with nary a word exchanged. When the vengeful husband apprehends them, Tae-suk is jailed and the final outcome might be considered tragic were it not for a certain transcendence which occurs.
Wholly Zen and unpredictable in spirit, the film casts a meditative spell on you as you watch it, never knowing what will happen next to these wordless protagonists. The surface blandness of their adventures-which vary from a young girl's being accidentally killed by Tae-suk's dangerous penchant for driving golf balls to their discovery of a dead old man-might be read as black comedy. You do laugh, but it's a tribute to Kim's masterful mysteriousness that you are never quite sure what your exact reaction should be, as well as the fact that it's all highly intriguing rather than inscrutably annoying. What does emerge clearly is a hard-won portrait of the redemptive value of real love.
Jae Hee's handsomeness and mute physical adroitness at times recall no less than Buster Keaton, especially in his character's maybe-wooing of Sun-hwa. Indeed, the actress' amusingly stoic, obdurate prettiness also evokes silent-screen actresses like Marion Mack, who played Keaton's beloved in The General. The entire production has an otherworldly elegance, magnificently photographed by Jang Seung-baek. Slvian's insinuating music is another crucial element in this one-of-a-kind cinematic journey.