[aka: Soom]

Written by Kim Ki Duk

Produced by Song Myong-Chul

Directed by Kim Ki Duk



Chang Chen

Park Ji-A

Gang In-Hyeong

Ha Jung-Woo

Kim Ki Duk

Production Studio:

Theatrical: Cineclick Asia & Kim Ki Duk Film

Video: Palisades Tartan


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Codec: MPEG-2

Disc Size: Dual Layer

Runtime: 84 minutes

Chapters: 13

Region: 1


Korean Dolby Digital 5.1

Korean Dolby Digital 2.0


Feature & Bonus: English


• Making-of Breath (27:55  )

• At Cannes (4:10)

• Cannes Red Carpet March 19, 2007 (5:20)

• Interviews [Chang Chen, Park Zi-a] (13:40)

• Upcoming Trailers


DVD clamshell case

Release Date: August 16, 2011


While waiting on death row, Jang Jin (Chang Chen) tries to commit suicide using a sharpened toothbrush handle as his main tool. The details of his desperate attempt reach Yeon, a young female sculptor who doesn’t know the inmate personally, but feels compelled to seek him out after discovering her husband’s betrayal with another woman. A peculiar connection begins to grow between Jang Jin, now unable to speak, and Yeon, obsessed with brightening his cell in vivid colors.


Palisades Tartan:

In May 2008, Palisades Media Asset Fund acquired Tartan Films US library assets. Two months later, Palisades acquired a majority of Tartan Films UK’s 400+ film library assets, bringing the size and magnitude of its library to almost 600 titles and branded their new division Palisades Tartan.


Tartan Films was originally founded in 1984 and is credited with bringing Asian Extreme film to the west as well as some of the most compelling art house films of the last quarter century.   Palisades Tartan will continue to expand an already distinctive and provocative slate of films by focusing on quality film acquisitions, thus significantly increasing the size of their overall library in both territories.


The Movie: 7.5

Critical Reaction:

New Korean Cinema:

The story centres on a love triangle between a disaffected housewife Yeon (Park Zi-a), her adulterous husband (Ha Jung-woo) and a death cell inmate, Jang Jin, played by Taiwanese star Chang Chen.  This circular movement between the seasons, and the compression of time, marks Breath as an unofficial sequel to the award winning Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring (2003). Chang Chen delivers an impressive performance as the mute and tormented Jang Jin traumatized by the act of violence that led to his imprisonment, while Park Zi-a perfectly inhabits the role as the disaffected housewife whose journey from a desire for death to embracing life provides much of the emotional focus and depth of the film.

For a director often accused of misygonism, Breath provides material evidence of Kim Ki-duk’s ability to produce female centred narratives and thereby contests such accusations. . . as Breath clearly demonstrates, Kim should be recognized as one of South Korea’s most accomplished directors alongside auteur’s Park Chan-wook and Bong Jong-ho. Kim Ki-duk’s mature films have moved away from the extreme cinema of his early days to provide profound mediations of the nature of life and death. This is a film that demonstrates just how accomplished a director of Kim Ki-duk is, and one can only hope that it will pave the way for a wider appreciation of his films outside of their extreme origins. - Colette Balmain


Twitch Film:

The story is touching and is built well, particularly the character of Jin Jang  played by Chang Chen. Her [sic - he meant “HIs” - LN] life story is revealed slowly and through a similar technique in 3-Iron, without the need for huge amounts of dialogue and explanation. Her [again - he meant “HIs” - LN] story comes through looks, well framed shots and the smallest of items.

Through the quiet looks and glances between characters so much emotion and tension is conveyed, as well as the story itself. It's something that is missing from Hollywood so much, the quiet moment and the subtlety of emotion. It really is amazing to see how much is conveyed without the need for these explanatory scenes and speeches that Hollywood seems so fond of using and overusing. . . I really wanted to love this film, but there's just a little too much left unexplored and unexplained, and I was left with a feeling of wanting to have had more of these characters lives.  Overall I was much more disengaged than I was with “3-Iron.” - Todd Brown


Image : 8/7

The muted gray-blues of Jang’s prison cell alternates with alive, at times vivid color - and Palisades does justice to both in this excellent transfer that would have enjoyed the light high definition.  Even so, don’t be put off by this title being “only” on DVD.  Resolution is always tight, skin tones correct unless deliberately filtered.

Audio & Music : 7/7

From the scraping of Jang’s cell wall with a toothbrush to the scream of his cellmate, we can almost hear Yeon hold her breath.  My preference is for the 2.0 mix rather than the 5.1.  The latter doesn’t buy you much and you lose dynamics and nuance in the bargain.


Extras : 4

While there is no director’s commentary (which, admittedly, would have been a impractical on DVD, as opposed to Blu-ray, because of the subtitling involved), Tartan does offer a few useful onus items, including a half-hour behind the scenes making of feature, interviews with its two stars (Chang Chen and Park Zi-a), as well as a couple of deep breaths at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.  There are lso two trailers for upcoming features: The First Beautiful Thing; Some Days Are Better Than Others.

Recommendation : 7

Those used to thinking of Kim Ki Duk as a purveyor of sadomasochistic fare should definitely catch the poetic “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring” and “3-iron”.  “Breath” is roughly somewhere in between perhaps.  While not remotely restful, there is not a great deal of activity, and when there is it bursts off the screen like that sudden letting go when one stops holding their breath.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

August 19, 2011

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