After his business goes bankrupt, 30-something Kyung-Min (Oh Jung-Se) kills his wife impulsively. Hiding his anger, he seeks out his former middle school classmate Jong-Suk (Yang Ik-June). Jong-Suk now works as a ghostwriter for an autobiography, but he dreams of writing his own novel. For the first time in 15 years, they meet. Kyung-Min and Jong-Suk both hide their own current situations and begin to talk about their middle school days.
At their middle school, they were classified by their wealth and grades. Kyung-Min and Jong-Suk were at the bottom. They were called pigs. They were bullied by a ruling class called dogs. When they were called pigs, they got angry but couldn't do anything against the dogs. Then a king of pigs appears—Chul (Kim Hye-Na). Kyung-Min and Jong-Suk became to rely on Chul-Yi.
Now, leading Jong-Suk to their middle school grounds, Kyung-Min discloses the shocking truth to Jong-Suk of what happened 15 years ago.
What can I say? This was a very interesting anime, but many people may not be able to stomach the reality of what this anime represents. Too many people are put off by this because of its brutality but this is what human nature can and sometimes becomes. The anime is vile because humans can be vile we all have the potential to become monsters if the right circumstances are met. If you can understand that is what makes us human then you should be able to enjoy this anime.
I kind of know that there's a problem when I catch myself sitting through a film and feeling worn out and put off by its rampant misanthropy. "The King of Pigs" is likely one of the worst and most tiresome offenders I have ever encountered along these lines. It's all pretty damned vile no matter which way you approach it. I feel hesitant to even write about this, as I'd rather not provide some sort of morbid and unintentional recommendation for the dishearteningly large number of people out there who will seek out anything which is decidedly "EXTREME" in content. I can't stand the prevalent
attitude that this alone somehow denotes worth or is reason enough to spark an interest. Perhaps you can identify yourself among this crowd as you are reading this, at which point I would encourage you to grow up and mature past this phase as soon as possible, although I also realize how ineffective any such appeals will be. "The King of Pigs" seems best suited for this intellectually and emotionally stunted sort of audience and... not much of anyone else, really. There is an unflinchingly gratuitous scene of fatal and repeated animal abuse which is dragged out for all its worth, reaching the artistic equivalent of any and all trashy teenage gore blogs. I have absolutely nothing against extreme storytelling or explicit content, but there is little more that I despise than such distinctions being used as an illusory crutch in place of any actual depth, originality, or purpose.
"The King of Pigs" is a South Korean CGI feature with highly inconsistent production values, but in all honesty, that's not something that I actually hold against it. It doesn't seek to be a glossy anime-style production, so it mostly avoids the inherent pitfalls to the approach suffered from works like the recent "Berserk" films. If anything, the aesthetic is more along the lines of animated art house successes such as "Waltz with Bashir," or even the rotoscoped Linklater films (albeit with far less technical care and certainly weaker scripts to build upon). I tried hard to justify "Pigs'" content for the duration of the film, as there are occasional flourishes which did appeal to me, but at a certain point, it just becomes an exhausting and monotonous drag.
The film opens with a static shot of a freshly strangled woman, her murderous husband serving as one half of its thematic focus. The other lead is then introduced as an unsuccessful ghostwriter, venting his frustrations through the seemingly routine emotional and physical abuse of his girlfriend. Things only go downhill from there, too. After the former calls upon his similarly abject childhood friend for the first time since their first year of middle school, they recall the traumatizing events that we're led to believe shaped the course of their lives. There's no real message to any of the film aside from the fact that people are awful by nature and that's that. The bullying the young men experience is increasingly cruel and difficult to watch, and like everything else in the film, is as such for the sake of being cruel and difficult to watch.
I think that the most irreconcilable turn the film makes is its apparent and absolute exoneration of the evils both men would later perpetuate on the grounds of their soiled childhoods. In this regard, the film veers from being merely un-enjoyable and celebratory in its grimness into territory which is nothing short of morally irresponsible. Violence begets violence, thus effectively removing any responsibility from the destructive men themselves. In school, the boys rally around a third figure, one who lashes back at their tormentors in ways which grow increasingly gruesome as the running time wears on. In case you haven't yet caught on, that really is the entire modus operandi at play here. I understand that such things are widely open to interpretation, but I would argue that the film's treatment of this backlash is one which not only condones but celebrates the notion of harsh retributive violence.
As I stated, I wanted for a long time (far longer than it deserved) to like this movie, to find something which would justify all of my stated misgivings. Unfortunately, it didn't want to give me much to work with on that quest. There is simply nothing about the story that feels particularly necessary. I think it's important to reinforce just how much this movie revels in its own ugliness. It stops trying to do much of anything else pretty early on.
Admittedly, there are a few well-devised plot twists and turns, jumping back and forth chronologically as it does between the aforementioned childhood recollections and scenes of the two men drinking and then wandering the same locations as adults. It's not an incompetent film, merely a wildly misguided one whose lofty and undeserved self-assurance permeates most every frame. The closing moment alone instantly became one of the most heavy-handed and indulgent bull**** turns I've ever seen a movie take, and let it be known that I have a remarkably high tolerance for heavy-handed and indulgent bull**** movies. Is it art? Yeah, sure, whatever, I don't care, but I certainly don't think it's particularly good or worthwhile art. I regret giving it the benefit of a doubt for even a minute, as well as allowing it to occupy my evening. It's pretty rare that I see something and feel compelled to so immediately broadcast my distaste for it, but it's also pretty rare that I see films as all-around horrid as "The King of Pigs."
Life, often times, is a disconsolate, oppressive journey with enough melancholic moments to make one want to kill their wife (or a creepy cat, who torments you ad nauseam).
“The King of the Pigs” is a gripping allegorical tale about class/wealth inequality and the dehumanizing aspect of school aged bullying; not only for those who are bullied, but for the instigators themselves (because of their internal hierarchical structure). Chan Young, a bright new student, exemplifies this dehumanization when his enthusiasm for school related excellence wanes, due to the callous nature of the imperious “dogs.” The obedience of the other “pigs” is quite
evident, as their resolve to combat their oppressors is noticeably absent; except for one rebellious soul — Chul “The King of the Pigs” Kim — who aims to alter the contemporary paradigm through a series of aggressive assaults against the tyrannical rulers of the classroom.
Yeon Sang-ho, director of the work in question, drowns his characters in unremitting gloom, never giving the viewer a chance to catch their breath, as he yanks you deeper into his ocean of despair. It is a welcomed experience that far too few directors are willing to accommodate; yet, life, even for those trapped in misery, still contains moments of intermittent joy, an emotion that seems foreign to Mr. Sang-ho. An injection of happiness, every once in a while, would have provided a nice contrasting effect for the viewer (as the characters would resonate with greater effect). Also, the hallucinations of the tortured cat were a bit heavy-handed, bordering on absurd. Nightmarish illusions should, in most cases, be used sparingly; otherwise, the effect will lose its potency and be rendered completely useless.
Furthermore, due to the incessant need to portray life as pure hopelessness, the ending became a contrived mishmash of violence and rage. With those deficiencies in mind, however, “The King of Pigs” is still an impressive film with a plethora of useful insights on the dynamics of societal hierarchies and the ruthlessness of life, from beginning to end.
This movie must be the most boring movie, who ever
touched the "it's violent, so it's deep" genre.
But first of all I have to say, that I don't see this movie as a bulliying film,
but for what it wants to be at the end of the day:
A Film that wants to be vile, in the edgiest way possible,
by saying things, a hundred other movies said before,
in higher Quality.
So, for anyone who wants to see "Dwaejiui Wang", I recommend
to watch "The 120 Days of Sodom" and the 134 other movies
doing that stuff better, in which this movie gloriously failed.