The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden (2016)

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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 1,190 users
Reviews: 6 users

1930's Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, Sook Hee is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, Hideko, who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle Kouzuki. But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her read moreup in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sook Hee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.

  • Native title:

  • Also Known as:

    Agasshi; Agassi; Lady; Mademoiselle; Ahgassi;

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Park Chan Wook makes his long-waited Korean cinema comeback
South Korean director Park Chan Wook is expected to come back with "Agasshi"

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15 people found this review helpful
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Sep 5, 2016
  • Overall 9.5
  • Story 9.5
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 10
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
This was a near-perfect movie. It's been highly talked about and so I was eager to watch it. I am glad I waited a bit to watch it with subtitles and didn't watch it raw because I wouldn't have understood it well. FYI it's a highly bilingual film and the characters use both Japanese and Korean heavily in it.

The story is excellent. You can see how much effort the writer and read more director put into it right from the first scene. While it gets dark and depressing, there is also a light tone to it during some parts. This is the first time I have watched a lesbian Korean movie and found myself highly loving it. While the two women serve as the main characters, Ha Jeong Woo also plays the male lead and has quite a presence throughout. During the entire course of the film, it will give you the feeling of reading a book than watching a film. It's poetic and literary in its narration and the atmosphere of the movie just amplifies all the best parts about the film.

There were a few erotic scenes but I felt like they were tastefully filmed. The girls have good chemistry with each other and Ha Jeong Woo was the perfect barrier between them. I was impressed by how well all three spoke Japanese in the movie (also the supporting cast). Plus the era the film is set in makes it a hundred times more interesting. It's intriguing to see Korea portrayed under the rule of Japan and you can see how much Korean culture was influenced by the Japanese during then. You could watch the movie just for the periodic setting and even then you could enjoy it for that solely as well.

What's cool about the movie is the plot- the conning, friendship, romance, perversion and obsession. There's also a slight revenge aspect to the story which was the main twist and made this movie way more likable. Also the costumes, sets and dialogues are what made it so fun. I swear I blushed during a few parts of the film because I never realized how erotic Japanese can sound with the right diction.

If you wanna know what sets this movie apart, it's the setting/era (undoubtedly) and also the ending. YES. The ending makes it all worth it. The entire 2+ hours will fly by and you will not even notice it. And the twist was so, so clever. Kudos to the writer.

Only watch it if you are over 18 or a mature teen. There are some scenes of torture and hints of BDSM and perversion. They are not too overbearing so do not worry. Just sit down and enjoy it- like me. The ending makes it the best thing ever. TRUST ME.
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15 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Aug 31, 2016
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.5
Finally found some time to watch this movie, and I must say : I wasn't disappointed !
I first heard about it because it was officially competing at the Cannes's Movie Festival.
And then I saw that the great Park Chan Wook was the director behind it so I quickly decided to watch it.
BUT, neither did I read the summary first nor watched the trailer ... and maybe I should have read more had.

Don't get me wrong ! This movie is a masterpiece. But, I wasn't expecting that plotline AT ALL.
You should be aware that it gots some serious mature contents like SEX, BDSM and violence. You can feel really uneasy watching it. But that is the reason why this movie is so beautiful : the darkness and somehow weird feels matches so well with the love story. Some scenes are magical.
But just keep in mind that it is 18+ rated (basically 5 minutes of intense, non-stoping and not-really censured sex)

There is three major arks in the movie: the first two ones where you get to discover and even rediscover the characters and story from different point of views, and the third one where all of your answers are answered & the story ends.
This combination might seems odd to some viewers, as we sometimes get to rewatch the same scenes. But I personally find it really interesting.

The two main actresses are absolutely perfect. They convey all the feels of their characters in an emotional way. As it is stayed in the summary, they will both 'discover some unexpected emotions'. Lesbian relationship in Korean movies are quite unusual and I must say that this one is breaking down HUGE taboos. The geniuses of Park Chan Wook was to gamble on this idea, in a country where he perfectly knows that the critics will get fierce.
Thanks to a good casting choice, I personally think that he won his bet.
I was surprisingly amazed by Kim Tae Ri (Sook Hee)'s acting. She's new, It's her first movie. The idea of new fits perfectly her character. The way she acted was stunning. I want to see her in more things from now on.

Anyway if you're 18+, interested in some good suspenseful stories and open-minded regarding this movie love plot line, you will definitely enjoy it.
It's not Old Boy sure ...but it is The Handmaiden. They both have their qualities and universe.

Special mention to the ending song which was absolutely gorgeous ... kinda combines all of the feels that this movie gives you.
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Similarly, hormones season 2 and 3 of "koi and dao" couple an asian lesbian themed who had a sweet happy ending but not as much as plot twisted as the handmaiden.
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same asian lesbian girls who had a sweet happy ending but not as much as plot twisted as the handmaiden.
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Comments (83)

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    Nana8 17 days ago

    This movie was wow, at first I thought I could predict what was going to happen and then all those plot twists. There's just one scene I thought it was too much and unnecessary but still, I'm glad I found this movie. I can't even describe how great it was.

  • Reply
    hongberg 29 days ago

    Plot twist after plot twist after plot twist! I really enjoyed the movie!

  • Reply
    Sora Mar 28, 2017

    That movie was a piece of art.. I'm left speechless

  • Reply
    Mary28 Mar 17, 2017

    The book was weird as fuck, but interesting, the Original American movie, was also weird as fuck but watchable. This seems to take a whole new perspective on it and the synopsis is really interesting, so I hope I like it.

  • Reply
    Inessa974 Mar 5, 2017

    Amazing and well shot movie, as expected from director Park Chan Wook. The plot, the acting, the character's costumes, the music, cinematography... everything was great.

  • Reply
    mrwyoo Feb 3, 2017

    why is it only in amsterdam.........

  • Reply
    PabboStell Jan 31, 2017

    I will give it 7/10, only because of the many plot twists and the actor's work.
    The film kept me on the edge until the very end. It was beautifully shot and had a nice OST.
    However some of the scenes were too much for me.

  • Reply
    WikaK Jan 30, 2017

    It's the most beauifull movie that i've ever seen and one of my favorite. I really love it!

  • Reply
    AnicsiRoscoe Jan 22, 2017

    I was so surprised to see this movie shown here in Germany! I am so tempted to watch, but I want to watch it in Korean. Have to see if I can find it with subtitles in a movie theatre.

  • Reply
    haitakaz Jan 8, 2017 - edited

    They're going to show this movie at the cinema here in Sweden, I'm so gonna watch it! ❤❤❤

  • Reply
    Pelin Dec 28, 2016

    My biggest fault was watching this in the middle of the night. I have to watch something fluffy befire I go to sleep. Especially the last parts with the old man was scary and could cause nightmares. But other than that, great movie big plottwists and a satisfying ending.

  • Reply
    catemine Dec 2, 2016

    This was absolutely awesome. Almost missed it in theatres

  • Reply
    evilblea Nov 26, 2016 - edited

    Can anyone recommend movies to me which are similar to this? Or as beautiful as this?

    • Reply
      nighrtwing Dec 15, 2016

      I suppose Carol (2015) will satisfy you since it is also very well-directed and constructed movie. It might be a little different since the storyline doesn't have many twists, but it is unquestionably a worth watching; one of the best movies of the past year.

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    Selty Nov 19, 2016 - edited

    This is very very close to the masterpiece. I recommand every woman (and guys too if you feel smart enough) to watch this I just came back from the movie theater I'm totally in love.
    Cinematography amazing, the cast is awesome, and this is way too hot for traditional Korea, you guys will be shocked. as well the level of japanese language is perfect.
    I'm happy that it's NOT a movie about japanese imperialism AGAIN, but a love story, that finally gives a voice to lgbt community.

  • Reply
    Mehii Nov 11, 2016

    hauntingly beautiful


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Release Date:

    Jun 1, 2016
  • Duration:

    2 hr. 25 min.


  • Score:

    8.5 (scored by 1,190 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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