It was clear that director Kim Ki-duk had crossed a threshold when he went from
being Korea's Abel Ferrara to a gentler Buddhist elder with Spring, Summer,
Fall, Winter...and Spring (2003). That film's postenlightenment vibe echoes
throughout this impressive, fablelike frolic about a tentative affair between a
mute vandal (Jae) and an abused housewife (Lee). The message of 3-Iron
may seem bumper-sticker simple—"Happiness happens!"—but Kim's ability to blend
silent comedy's visual whimsy, stoic violence and higher spiritual aspirations
keeps the film from becoming a po-faced polemic.