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[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Bluff"

2013/07/24 | 1927 views | Permalink

Four male friends gather around a barroom table. Their dirty-minded guy talk quickly takes a turn for the pornographic as they begin outlining elaborate sexcapades. Which are probably completely made up. This is understandable, given that the actual stories of what they've been doing are fairly sad and pathetic- but therein lies the comedy. Given that all the sexual encounters portrayed on-screen have a heavy element of negotiation, it's hard to imagine a way to spin these stories so they sound anything but absurd.

The movie's first sexual encounter is quite funny because it quickly takes a very weird direction. The visuals and antagonism work well in tandem with the actual sex, and it's amusing just thinking about how this story is supposed to translate into actual spoken words. The movie is at its best when it takes strange story hooks and somehow turns them into pornography, mainly because the characters are all working backwards. They want to tell a pornographic story, but have to dress it up somehow because pornography on its own is pretty boring.

The main problem with "The Bluff" is that there's too much sex. This is to be expected to some extent, as this is a pornographic film in the literal sense. I nonetheless wondered, at several points, whether the director had simply forgotten the broader point of the bluffing and was just unironically showing us sex-on-screen. It doesn't help that the actresses are actual porn stars- granted, a normal actress probably would not want to do a role like this. Their bodies nonetheless draw attention to a titillation factor that I'm not sure works well with the overall theming.

Something I really felt was missing was more verbal description of the sex acts, if only a quick jump cut from them describing a weird indescribable thing to the screen actually showing the weird indescribable thing. While the movie tries to escape some of the dullest tropes of pornography, it clearly is still very attached to the base concept of the hot sex, even when it's not really very funny. Or more accurately, funny anymore. Every idea in this movie is funny at first. The main issue is switching gears fast enough to a more interesting, novel joke once the initial shock has worn off.

There may be some misogynistic undertones to "The Bluff", though that's not as bad as it may sound. While it's clearly a film made by men for men, there's an unfiltered frankness involved that's actually a little refreshing. Men don't generally have politically correct sexual fantasies. Neither do women, for that matter, and I can easily a sequel being made to this film that features women making up similarly elaborate nonsense to impress their friends.

I'd probably like that movie more than this one, but that's really a question of personal taste. "The Bluff" is not a great film and it isn't going to make anyone start thinking of pornography as being an appropriate vehicle for more ambitious, mainstream comedy. However, as a sex comedy and a slice of X-rated life, the movie succeeds in all its goals. If you absolutely must watch some sort of pornography, it's far funnier than what normally passes for pornographic film humor.

This review was written by William Schwartz as a part of HanCinema's PiFan (Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival) coverage.

"The Bluff" is directed by Kong Ja-kwan.

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