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The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden

2016
Romance
Drama
2h 25m
1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on an estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She and a swindler who poses as a Japanese Count are scheming to get the Lady engaged, rob her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. All proceeds according to plan until Sookee starts to truly understand Hideko. (imdb)
Your probable score
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The Handmaiden

2016
Romance
Drama
2h 25m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 72.67% from 2577 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(2577)
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Rated 03 Jan 2017
5
73rd
another dense, vivid, knowingly ridiculous gothic tale, but more stirring than its (still underrated) predecessor STOKER. on one level it's straightforward feminist wish-fulfillment about weapons of oppression repurposed as tools for self-realisation and liberation at the oppressor's expense (male gaze included), but park analogises this with his own artistic mission, attempting to liberate korean identity by twisting its most stifling perspectives and traditions toward progressive ends.
Rated 28 Mar 2017
55
24th
I can't say I see the hype behind this movie. The story here is okay, with the twists stacking up in too fast of a tempo to have any impact, but the graceful way in which it's presented is impressive. The visual style is undoubtedly tasty but not outstanding like, for example, Oldboy was. Sadly, the lengthy sex scenes suffer from a large dose of male gaze, which makes them border on ridiculousness and sucks all sensuality out of them. Oh and guys, "erotic" does not simply mean "lots of sex".
Rated 27 Nov 2016
85
92nd
Park's sense of style serves the story well, and the script is a good adaptation of a brilliant novel too, wisely skipping at least one level of twistiness and changing British class struggles to Japanese imperialism but keeping the story set on the women rather than the men manipulating them. Everyone cons everyone and the audience wins.
Rated 22 Jan 2017
80
96th
"Old boy" has raised the pitch so high that what ever director ends up doing makes me want to go back to watch old boy again, but it also makes me want to see what else he will do so I will always watch his latest film. Anyway, absolutely fantastic. Park proves once again he's a amazing. This film is extremely sexy, magnificently shot and with two fantastic lead performances to boot. Loved it.
Rated 26 Oct 2016
90
80th
Viewed October 25, 2016. Masterful storytelling, really, what with the way it plays its audience like a harp, moving back and forth with gleeful ease. Lush, aching, wickedly funny and so much fun. Doomed lust and the power of love. Like if someone had let Hitchcock put scissoring in his movies.
Rated 25 Aug 2018
79
77th
Lush & intense mix of period melodrama & erotic thriller about desire & control. Layeres of interesting subtext carried by a superb cast & the seductive precision I expect from Park. Plays with some radical ironies taking them so far it approaches some weird kind of parody at times (also not unexpected). Aside from mild tonal conflicts, the spiraling structure struggles to maintain the high level of tension it achieves early on. Still works rather well & holds some truly wonderful intricacies.
Rated 03 Jun 2019
55
56th
This movie has phenomenal cinematography but after the first part, the film just lost me. A lot of scenes dragged (I never thought I'd be so disinterested in lesbian sex) and its need to try and explain the middle part of the film felt unnecessary. Everything became so long-winded that I stopped caring who everyone was or what their intentions were. There's also the fact its take on relationships and homosexuality is simply unbelivable, and comes across as a tool for visuals than anything else.
Rated 01 Dec 2023
80
88th
A Tale of Two Scissors
Rated 09 Oct 2016
81
68th
Fuck the patriarchy!
Rated 19 Mar 2017
100
90th
I really don't like the structure of retelling a hustle several times from different perspectives to reveal what's actually going on. In general it just takes way too long and isn't very clever, if you "fool" me by not actually telling me what's going on that's just you not telling me the story. The twists are too cheap. Anyway, this is actually fantastic and the more I think about it the more I like it so whatever.
Rated 19 Mar 2018
57
45th
A big disappointment. Beautiful to look at (as expected), but even though the story makes twists and turns along the way, it never really gets that interesting.
Rated 05 Nov 2016
8
71st
'The Handmaiden' is practically dripping with sensuality thanks to the chemistry between its leads, both of whom are stellar in this Gothic period romantic drama. Only occasionally absurd, the movie succeeds as an intricately plotted exploration of both patriarchal and racial dynamics.
Rated 23 Sep 2017
85
95th
This was truly excellent. It's an expertly crafted story, beautifully presented and performed. It felt a lot like Quentin Tarantino's best work, actually. I wouldn't be surprised if an American remake is in the works somewhere now. The cinematography is breathtaking - some of the shots looked like classical paintings. Really great performances from all involved. It's thrilling, sexy, grotesque, beautiful and something that begs to be seen.
Rated 01 Dec 2016
83
93rd
An expertly crafted film that becomes more and more engaging as it strings you along its incredible, twisting journey.
Rated 25 Dec 2016
9
90th
Because it wouldn't be Christmas without a Korean erotic drama. Delightfully sensuous, masterfully plotted and utterly absorbing, a must see!
Rated 08 Mar 2017
92
97th
Exquisitely shot and wonderfully constructed, a genre defying mix of mystery, comedy and horror in period drama trappings. The build up is perfectly executed, every scene unraveling an extra layer of complexity, curiosity and characterization revealing the depths of the premise, sometimes with shock but always with a wry sense of fun. By the time the second half comes around it turns into a roller coaster of revelations, all of which fit together perfectly into the whole. Great performances too.
Rated 01 Feb 2017
83
52nd
I love park chan wook i love him and love his all movies
Rated 21 May 2017
91
96th
Best from Park since Oldboy. Brilliant directing, great acting, twists and turns galore in the plot.
Rated 30 Dec 2016
85
96th
A stylish erotic thriller with the kind of long lesbian sex scenes that could only be filmed by a 40 year old man. It was entertaining, over the top and often (unintentionally?) funny. Biggest flaw is the runtime. I did not feel the need to have the story explained to me three times.
Rated 30 Oct 2016
4
34th
Muddled, fails to shock and poorly structured. Struggled to utilize it's running time. Had a lot of potential and was absorbed until about the hour mark where everything just seemed to fall apart.
Rated 26 Nov 2016
55
43rd
Park does almost every possible shot, from crane and dolly to POV stuff, but can't quite escape from the script's twisting structure. Still, some good material comes out of the many wicked relationships in each of the three segments -- the conman enslaving a naive girl, who falls for the heiress; heiress and conman forging a relationship to send the girl to a mental institution; the lesbian affair having to survive through hideous men -- the uncle makes the heiress read erotic books for dudes.
Rated 19 Feb 2018
10
14th
With the beginning of 2nd half, I realised that I really don't care with all this aristocratic, decadent fantasy of "perversity" & eccentricities. Least related with such stories. They don't appeal to me. Also realised that I don't like this kind of twists which take up hours to cook and then make you feel numb & deceived. Willingfully ready to be guided in reason & emotions in any movie but not to be tricked by the arrogant cunning of an ever omniscient narrator. Sex & twists are overrated!
Rated 10 Dec 2017
81
73rd
it's very good but the variations in tone are weird and maybe it would be better if Park dialed up the seriousness and resisted the urge to occasionally go for some gags
Rated 10 May 2017
87
88th
It's rare that such an elaborate, labyrinthine crime drama is capable of delivering beautiful photography, moving romance, taut suspense, consistently satisfying story beats, and nuanced musings on subjects as disparate as sexuality, the malleability of storytelling, and the brutality of the patriarchy, but The Handmaiden is delivers on all counts. It's awe-inspiring how Park is able to craft delicate films from such cruel and extreme material, but this may be his masterpiece in that regard.
Rated 15 Oct 2016
90
88th
The best move I've seen this year, after Kubo and Two Strings.
Rated 18 Jan 2020
80
81st
Part one: Park-Chan Wook is horny on main. Part two: actually, the horniness is a nuanced deconstruction of how we view lesbian relationships in media. Part three: nvm, Park-Chan Wook is just horny on main
Rated 30 Dec 2016
80
86th
Leaving aside the intense (and really full-on) sex scenes, this has all the hallmarks of what makes all these Korean dramas so great. Unpredictable and not at all bashful. The performances are all great and the story slowly reveals itself as any good mystery should with turns and twists. You won't be able to look away to the very end.
Rated 02 Jan 2018
65
16th
Great looking korean soap opera.
Rated 25 Feb 2018
60
47th
It started extremely strong - to a point where I actually got excited -, but then it got convoluted in its own plot. One twist too many.
Rated 14 Feb 2018
60
40th
Would've been much better without the hour spent explaining what had happened in the middle. The performances are great and make this a decent enough film.
Rated 09 Jul 2017
92
97th
Park Can-wook did it again. Music, cinematography, acting, directing and the story. And what a story. Movie is cheating viewer. That is the purpose of those quickly shown still images made for. And this film raised the idea in top notch. What a beautiful movie about love and cheating. Who is trusty and who is a dirty rotten scoundrel? We all are.
Rated 26 Jan 2017
75
68th
Bataille says: "In opposition to the impoverished existence of the oppressed, political sovereignty initially presents itself as a clearly differentiated sadistic activity" and he adds that fascism (here aristocratic fascism of 30s' Japan) creates a homogenous society and enjoys the heterogenous privileges of power & sexuality (here Kouzuki). 1st chapter narrates this perverted male fantasy. Then, women reclaim their power & this sadistic authority is destroyed by their "extra-normal" sexuality.
Rated 05 Feb 2017
87
81st
As in his previous films, Park's strength lies in his ability to inject humor amidst the drama and violence. If you've seen Lady Vengeance, you can pretty much guess where The Handmaiden's story ends up, but the performances by the lead actresses are compelling enough to follow the story through the 2+ hour runtime.
Rated 19 Jul 2020
75
43rd
Hot, but not on a level with his work from the '00s.
Rated 25 May 2017
92
85th
About a man that likes dirty stories. What can I say.
Rated 01 Aug 2017
6
31st
felt like it couldn't decide whether to be a horror film, thriller/drama, erotica, comedy, so it just put in stuff from everything which gave it a real weird awkward tone. maybe it's a korean thing, idk
Rated 04 Apr 2020
50
7th
Shitfest. Whole film is about itself explaining its supposedly "cool" twists. 1st one is actually cool. 2nd, alright whatever but the 3rd twist is the last nail on coffin. Sexual politics is dated, childish and base. All characters are fucking monsters, why would someone be happy in the end, fuck your SJW politics.
Rated 13 Feb 2017
85
90th
Mindfuck of a psychological thriller that plays on your every notion of what you know or think you know, forcing you to consider various angles throughout the duration of every insane, completely lunatic twist and turn. Park remains excellent at juxtaposing stark brutality and fatalism with moments of unyielding comedy. Unlike much else in 2016, and devilishly difficult to describe in one go. If you love cinema and its unique properties, then just see it.
Rated 22 Dec 2016
83
66th
'Tasteful' gentleman's erotica about 'tasteful' gentleman's erotica all in a sumptuous Korean art-house wrapping so that you don't have to worry about it not being Art. Actually, the twisty plot is very engaging.
Rated 30 Jul 2018
60
62nd
Sumptuous, intricate and sexy, this sets up what promises in the first part to be an enjoyable tale of scoundrels and deceit. The second part very cleverly reworks our perceptions from the first, but perhaps the machinations of the plot come to dominate in an imaginative but still rather mechanical way. The film affords much pleasure and is never boring, but perhaps does not quite fulfil the expectations it incites early on in proceedings. Did not see the extended cut.
Rated 28 Jul 2017
80
58th
Thelma and Louise Asian style Repetitive - Plot becomes more and more unlikely over time. Nicely photographed - costuming and layouts were first rate Male acting was silly at times
Rated 12 Mar 2017
80
76th
Park's work is getting better.
Rated 21 Jan 2017
9
97th
This movie has to walk a very fine line not to come off as exactly the opposite of what it was trying to say, yet Park smashes that line with a hammer, and still succeeds in delivering a meaningful message, not having to compromise. The exceptional lead performances really helped sell this, too. I was familiar with the BBC adaptation, so the main twists didn't come as a big surprise, yet this version has so much more going for it, and the new setting actually fits the story better in my opinion.
Rated 29 Oct 2017
85
94th
I love intricately plotted movies like this. It also has some really stunning cinematography. The thing that really makes it so incredible is that it's one of the most interesting examinations of sexuality I've seen in film. It really gets into the use of sexuality as a vehicle of intimacy versus a tool of manipulation, or some mix of the two. What a film.
Rated 27 Sep 2019
83
94th
Who would have thought yellow is the warmest color
Rated 25 Nov 2019
56
60th
Captivating, but too childish and cartoonist to make a real impact.
Rated 09 Dec 2017
35
29th
would've been way more clever if they stopped after the first hour, but think of all the girl-on-girl action we would have missed! (i was p disappointed to see some people here praising some feminist angle... just think of the masochistic joy the Uncle would feel watching this movie. it actually made me feel like a dirty uncle too a few times, hmm)
Rated 12 Jan 2017
45
18th
Really, did not worth the time watching it. Kind of orientalist. Probably the director is trying to appeal to the Western audience. However, who knows Park's style would not expect such a simple narration and setting from him.
Rated 17 Aug 2018
86
94th
A finely crafted erotic thriller.
Rated 12 Feb 2019
92
93rd
Everything is great, the script, direction, cinematography, production design, acting... everything
Rated 19 Dec 2017
85
93rd
This thick layered erotic thriller/romance/drama/thingamabob not just looks and is acted amazing, it also cleverly subverts your expectations about typical female roles in romance plots. Sexy and slightly disturbing, Park Chan-Wook delivers another excellent movie.
Rated 15 Jan 2017
80
50th
Beautiful pohotograhy, nice story. But it felt long. Way long.
Rated 28 Feb 2017
88
83rd
What a plot... mmm plot
Rated 20 Jun 2018
85
92nd
This film has you right by the balls when you have no idea where the plot and characters are going but you are sitting right at the edge of your seat mesmerized. That is what this feels like from start to finish. The period setting is quite unique and so is the social commentary. It is best not to overlay too much of the west's two dimensional gender politics into this..this film is far more nuanced. There are moments of hilarious political and social satire about eastern culture and society.
Rated 13 Jan 2018
4
74th
Its gratuitous sexuality seems to have been a bit contentious, perhaps understandably, because we all know Park spares no person's delicate sensibilities. This film is the male gaze, and it subverts the male gaze, and makes the viewer feel guilty about the male gaze, and it's refreshing to have the carpet so thoroughly yanked from under gender roles. By the end it might be one twist too ludicrous, but it's a damn fun ride getting there.
Rated 02 Dec 2016
95
99th
yooooooo.... YOOOOOOO! [Real review: Park's most romantic and audacious film, and while, yes, it does have *that* scene, it is so much more.]
Rated 28 Nov 2017
60
71st
Loved the first half but I felt the story had pretty much finished about three quarters of the way through. Park's style is always enjoyable for me nevertheless.
Rated 27 Apr 2017
80
68th
Beautifully shot, excellent performances. Explodes the Bechdel test. I struggled to untangle the message this movie was trying to impart.. Men are dogs emotionally hamstrung by their pornographic predilections? Sapphic love is the most pure and true? Is it a love-letter to antique Japanese pornography? A metaphor for Japanese Korean relations? Either way, worth it for the sheepish glances to each other from the two guys leaving the cinema who cleared expected something more like Oldboy..
Rated 12 May 2017
85
94th
The first part of the film is incredible in its own right, and the second makes it even better in a narratively elegant way. The third and final part should have either been cut or expanded, though. But every frame of the film is as beautiful as we're used to from Park Chan-wook, and one fantastic scene in particular springs to my mind instantly when thinking about 'The Handmaiden': the one with the bad tooth. Who know that getting dental work done could be intensely erotic?
Rated 14 May 2017
9
71st
Another amazing movie from an amazing director. It's fascinating to see an accomplished filmmaker pursuing erotic fiction as a legitimate avenue for storytelling. The shot selection and staging give the movie an incredible energy; it's very similar to Scorsese, where these bizarre camera movies somehow work and take the movie to another level. The story itself is great and the twists and turns fun and engaging.
Rated 26 Feb 2017
5
96th
Clever plot that twists and turns and combines that with sublime camerawork. It may not be deep in the sense that it makes the spectator think about the film for the next few weeks, but who cares when one is entertained this well? The old man is a caricature and there is some of the unnecessary ultra-violence that is the directors' trademark (?), but these are just minor quarrels.
Rated 20 Nov 2016
84
92nd
Park finally makes a great movie after Oldboy. There are a couple of memorable scenes: leaving Sook-Hee at the madhouse, the plot twists; impressive work. Every character has its relevance.
Rated 24 Feb 2018
65
58th
Immaculately shot, staged, and lit, with a pulpy, potboiler heart. Too risqué for the mainstream, and too banal to be avant garde. Best enjoyed by one who can revel in the art design without staring too deeply into its tormented, inconsistent cast of characters.
Rated 22 Jan 2017
63
77th
(THE GRIFTERS OF BURGUNDY)
Rated 07 Aug 2020
85
87th
I long for someone to carry me around on their back
Rated 07 Jun 2017
86
76th
Slightly overlong, but superb acting (especially from Min-hee Kim), fine writing, brilliant production design, and a tender romance at its core make for a gripping film.
Rated 02 Jun 2017
75
74th
Beatifully shot, splendidly told story. I think narration of the story from different eyes works well enough to trick the audiences, at least to me. Going back to its Korean origin recovers Park's reputation and clean up the bad taste of his previous, dissapointed movie Stoker.
Rated 05 Feb 2017
56
42nd
Brilliant. I have absolutely no idea what's going on
Rated 20 Nov 2016
80
99th
What a gorgeous movie! A little one-paced with every little detail being too controlled, but.... what a gorgeous movie! Such fascinating characters, half of it coming alive by Tae-ri Kim natural energy in a incredible way! Mysterious and delicious Korean masterpiece!
Rated 05 Jun 2017
90
96th
A precisely directed and sumptuous looking film full of mystery and perversity that also packs an emotional punch like few others. Park knows how to stage a scene like an old master, and the labyrinthine narrative that snakes through the claustrophobic atmosphere layers intrigue upon deception until the veil is finally lifted to cleverly reveal where your sympathies should ultimately lie. I've rarely felt so satisfyingly manipulated by a movie.
Rated 27 Jul 2017
83
92nd
An intense, confusing, absurd and lovely story, told with dedication. Absolutely worth the watch.
Rated 04 Sep 2016
60
51st
Sumptuous but more or less redundant.
Rated 14 Apr 2024
85
78th
Rated 08 Feb 2017
96
98th
Fantastic period thriller.
Rated 16 Dec 2021
60
24th
Scratch off the veneer of the beautiful cinematography, the good acting and the convoluted story; and you'll find something not very different from a smut film. Overall, The Handmaiden is not a bad movie, far from it. It's probably one of the best in its own category. But if you are like me and lack any interest in erotico-romantic stuff, and do not particularly enjoy typical Korean twisted plots and general weirdness; this movie is not worth its long running time.
Rated 29 Dec 2019
72
39th
The narrative structure doesn’t work for me. The strongest aspect of “part one” is how it works on a sensual/visceral level. When “part two” arrives, it becomes a cerebral game. As each layer of manipulation is revealed, there’s not enough reality remaining to care about the characters. Not sure you can have both emotional distance and emotional effect. Opting for “cool” would be within reason of the former intention, but then the love story doesn’t work. Conundrum.
Rated 20 Oct 2016
95
98th
null
Rated 18 Nov 2023
85
77th
general warning: be aware that thing is solid pornography and homosexual erotica, not a movie. do not watch if your knowledge on asian culture is limited to hentai, erotic role-play games, and other relevant pornographic material. a nice cinematography, presenting a self-reflected outlook on corruption and cunning of elites in far east very well. strongest plot twist i have ever seen, comprehensive moral message that presents the usurpation of property of orphans as a bad act.
Rated 09 Apr 2022
81
65th
Extended cut – Elegant, deliberately paced saga is one of Park’s more restrained and considered efforts, if still indulging in his usual excesses; almost DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS reimagined as an erotic thriller, with the “nesting doll of cons” plotting becoming a little tiring, and predictably unpredictable, towards the end, breaking the spell of the drama. Well performed by all; the three leads’ magnetic charisma help sustain the film through the moments where the screws are turned too tightly.
Rated 29 Mar 2020
82
81st
81.9
Rated 14 Feb 2021
81
93rd
excellent story, dark, intense and clever
Rated 07 Feb 2017
65
47th
Too long and not pretty enough. Felt almost more Hollywood than Korean.
Rated 28 Mar 2024
96
64th
Rated 15 May 2023
82
90th
I can see how this movie can be a really acquired taste. It's simply beautifully shot and the plot is compelling once it starts to unravel. The thing I most loved about this movie is that it just looks so gorgeous all the time. I can see how it could be controversial or difficult to watch for some folks. There are quite a few (weird) sex scenes here and the old dude with his perversions was disturbing (in a positive way for this twisted plot).
Rated 12 Apr 2024
90
64th
Rated 11 Feb 2017
80
81st
sinemanın saf hali içerisinde hala o hikaye anlatma büyüsünü taşıdığını gösteren filmlerden. iktidar mefhumu kaygan olduğu kadar zehirli de, bu şimdiye kadar defalarca gösterildi ama böylesine estetik ve sürükleyici biçimde yüz kez daha gösterilse hayranlıkla izlenilir.
Rated 12 Oct 2017
74
48th
Immaculately crafted and often very well plotted, I guess my big gripe with this is that the ending, although so far in the distance, is kind of a predictable given for this sort of story -- a ballsier conclusion of some sort would've at least been more satisfying for me. But I think any fans of cinema and story-telling are going to get behind this one, it feels like an old grand tale told in such a superbly handled way.
Rated 26 Oct 2022
92
95th
audiovisual 95 acting 90 overall feeling 90 avg ~92
Rated 22 Feb 2018
87
89th
Beautiful, engaging, and suspenseful.
Rated 01 Apr 2024
90
70th
Rated 19 Feb 2020
72
62nd
Phenomenal first and second act but anticlimactic third act. The sex scenes were terribly made.
Rated 28 Jul 2021
83
75th
The sublime cinematography and the beautiful intimate scenes make due for the mostly overconstructed and twisty plot. I loved it.
Rated 13 Jul 2021
89
67th
It's honestly a great adaptation of my favorite book, and I like how the ending was changed. But there must have been some weird directing for the sex scenes or something because they're weirder than they need to be.
Rated 03 Jul 2021
80
68th
Hard to fault it when most of its problems are endemic to the source material (I don't caaaaaare about this plot I just want to see them falling in looooove! *stomps feet*) but despite Park's best efforts part two still feels a little bit like doing homework. Just a little. It is unconscionably pretty though, and the two leads are literally perfect. Like, "I'm having heart palpitations when they look at each other" perfect.
Rated 28 Nov 2021
70
64th
Oddly unsatisfying. On the one hand I love acting, cinematography and that it stylistically looks almost like a 70s Toei film. But somehow it's not very exciting and it feels too bland for a material inspired by Hokusai, Rampo and similar artists.
Rated 14 Apr 2024
90
91st
Rated 21 Feb 2017
62
57th
*chuckles*
Rated 17 May 2020
80
93rd
NOT: Aileyle izlemeye kalkmayın. Çok güzel bir film. 2 saatlik süre boyunca gizemi ve akışı bozmadan koruyabilmişler. Ancak çok fazla cinsel sahneler içeriyor.
Rated 01 Jul 2018
17
94th
W4E2P2S2V2M1A2R2. Surprising, fascinating, and quite beautiful.
Rated 05 Jun 2020
65
67th
Like one of Old man Kouzuki's filthy stories, it keeps upping the ante to diminishing returns until finally becoming a tad ridiculous.

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