The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden (2016)

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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 1,497 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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18 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
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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17 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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Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

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.
Recommended by chariel02
same asian lesbian girls who had a sweet happy ending but not as much as plot twisted as the handmaiden.
Recommended by chariel02

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Comments (95)

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  • Reply
    Belmani 14 days ago - edited

    Ewwwww, sadly i ended up reading the ''Recommendations'' and have a major spoiler about the ending and it ruined the movie for me -_-

    • Reply
      namopanik 8 days ago - edited

      you mean that three entries of @chariel02 or something else that's already gone? have you reported it? I don't want to send another request if you already did. It's a pity to have such a masterpiece spoiled in any sense, but if you haven't seen it because of the untimely knowledge of the ending, know that there's so much more to it, lots of tiny hints and recurrences and a very interesting mindtrick with the storytelling. I still highly encourage to see it anyway.

  • Reply
    bun 15 days ago

    a m a s t e r p i e c e

  • Reply
    Lavendova 18 days ago - edited

    Wtf I just watched xD I feel that before watching this movie I was innocent but now OMG I never saw such a korean movie and I'm not talking only about the sex scenes, but also this disgusting tortures o.o Good that there was a happy ending at least... xD

  • Reply
    Meena_Drama_Fan Jul 7, 2017

    The story and execution were perfect for the concept the director has chosen, thou I don't like the concept, if I had known before, I might not be watched it.

  • Reply
    lindalinda Jul 7, 2017

    Okay. This is so mind blowing and I have to catch my breath, but this is also so disturbing and so destructing!!! So much point for the acting and the plot. Kim Tae Ri nailed it and all other casts are amazing. But this kind of movie is not my cup of tea.

  • Reply
    Hani Jul 7, 2017

    Ha Jung Woo is hot as always. Please go marry, ahjussi xD

  • Reply
    Aya Jun 27, 2017

    I don't understand why this movie is so unpopular here, it should at least have a 9, I m myself really peaky but this movie is literally perfect, there is nothing to add

  • Reply
    LPA Jun 24, 2017

    Very sinister. I don't need this in my life. Obviously didn't care for it. I have many lesbian friends (male and female), but this is way too dark and not something I want in my life. Also very sadistic. Just because something has effective plot twists does not make it beautiful or meaningful. It's just kind of gross and depraved.

  • Reply
    Soju May 20, 2017

    Very much blown away by the amount of unfiltered smut scenes in this! Made a very big mistake watching it with my 16 year old cousin sister (it was so awkward) Although I must say a very interesting plot. Good ending as well.

  • Reply
    Vui256 May 1, 2017

    I gave it a 10. maybe I have enjoyed it so much, I didn't mind the overused scenes. It was definitely a meaningful story.
    (my first time watching erotic genre, and definitely a good choice of mine)

  • Reply
    Ineta Apr 30, 2017

    During the first hour of the movie, I thought I this could deserve 9.5. During the second hour, my rating fell down to 9.0, since I wasn't too fond of how they went through it all again. But the ending they gave for the uncle and Count Fujiwara made me give this no more that 8.5 because it just weirded me out, and I didn't understand whether to laugh or cringe.

    This movie certainly is put in the mature genre for a reason (even though I did not expect it to be *that* sexual). But what I do love about this is certainly how they filmed it, because visually I just could not believe how beautiful it all is done.

  • Reply
    Nana8 Apr 13, 2017

    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 Mar 31, 2017

    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.


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Release Date:

    Jun 1, 2016
  • Duration:

    2 hr. 25 min.


  • Score:

    8.5 (scored by 1,497 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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