Saturday, 2 March 2013

Film: The Doll Master (2004)

Hi all! How are you? I am pretty good, trying to shake off a cold but tonight I watched an awesome movie called The Doll Master I wanna tell you about! It's Korean and was made in 2004. There's not too much information on it, even on Wikipedia so I hope to fill in some gaps and compile all the information here!

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60 years ago a man fell in love with a lady in a red kimono. He made a doll in her image to show his love for her and she loved him back. One day the woman was killed and he was blamed for her death, arrested by vigilantes and killed. However, the doll had also grown to love him and now that it was taken away from its maker, it sat by his grave for all eternity.

Flash forward 60 years - 5 people are invited to an art gallery/doll museum to pose for a doll maker to make dolls based on them. Hae-mi, the protagonist, is a sculptor - there's also a peppy high school student, photographer, a girl with a ball-jointed doll (hereon referred to as "doll girl") and there's also a model who wasn't invited but tagged along to try his luck anyway. There is a guy who is the head of the studio, Mr Choi and the doll maker, a paraplegic woman called Mrs. Im. There are dolls everywhere in the gallery; holding up mirrors and lights, in the toilets, in the walls, etc. and they all look like the red kimono woman's doll.

During dinner people start questioning doll girl about her BJD, Damien. Everyone thinks she's a bit weird (so if you're a doll girl, I suggest you might wanna give this a miss or get pissed!) and the photographer says that if you have too much affection for an inanimate object, it can grow a human soul. However, if you stop loving the inanimate object, such as a doll (convenient?), it can seek revenge on you for abandoning it. Hae-mi starts seeing a girl around the gallery in a red dress and white blouse called Mina. Apparently she knew Mina when she was younger but Hae-mi forgotten her completely.

So things start to go a bit wrong and somebody smashes doll girls' BJD up. She thinks it is Hae-mi and the photographer says that whoever did it had a purpose - in order to kill a possessed doll, you have to poke/gouge its eyes out and slash its throat as the soul comes in and out through the eyes.

Dolls start killing the guests at the doll museum and it transpires that Mina was Hae-mi's doll as a child. Hae-mi grew bored of her so when she got a new toy, she simply threw her away. The doll maker, Mrs Im, finds the discarded doll and takes it back to her museum with her and restores it. Mina, however, is sad that Hae-mi can't remember her and thinks that she doesn't like her.

At this point the only survivors are Hae-mi and the model (from the guests - Mr Choi and the doll maker are still alive) but it turns out the model is a police officer trying to find a killer near the gallery. He thinks Hae-mi killed all the guest so he handcuffs her to a room. Mrs Im comes in and explains that she and her husband found the red kimono lady doll by the dead lover's grave and took it home with them to their doll museum. The red kimono lady doll possessed Mrs Im (Mrs Im's real name before possession is Jae-won) to find the descendants of her maker's killers and kill them, along with the actual killer of the red kimono lady. The model/police office is the descendant of the actual killer and the other 4 guests are descendants of the vigilantes responsible for the lover's death 60 years ago.


Hae-mi is pretty freaked out to find out her childhood doll is real flesh and blood so when Mina says that she will protect Hae-mi from being killed, Hae-mi shoots her instead. She simply heals the bullet wound though and isn't killed - to be honest, if I were Hae-mi and people were getting killed by dolls, I'd stick with the doll that said they weren't going to kill me.

It turns out Mina is killing the guests of the doll museum so that she and Hae-mi can be together forever. Hae-mi tries to kill the BJD version of Mina but she grabs it out of the way, saving herself.

Hae-mi shouts that she doesn't want to be with Mina and that she scares her. Having been properly discarded this time, with no hope of being reunited with her owner, Mina turns into the revenge-seeking kind of doll and starts hunting Hae-mi down.

Mina successfully kills the police officer and stabs Hae-mi with her fingers/long fingernails. Just as she is about to finish the job, she sees a scar on Hae-mi's forearm - she got it when she was a child, playing with Mina; a bike almost ran Mina over but Hae-mi protected her doll, hurting herself instead. Mina remembers this and doesn't want to kill her any more, turning back into her normal self. Mrs Im comes to finish the job instead but Mina protects Hae-mi. Mrs Im kills Mina by destroying her doll but her husband (who was locked in a basement as he didn't agree with the whole exacting revenge thing) shoots and kills her. Just before Mrs Im dies, the red kimono lady doll relinquishes her hold on Mrs Im and she becomes herself long enough to apologise and agree with her husband that they never should have took the red kimono lady doll home.

After that, Hae-mi and Jae-won's husband burns all the dolls in the musuem (all the kimono lady dolls dotted about the museum were used to sort of spirit hop around them all, killing the guests when the time was right) and Hae-mi questions who was at fault - the people or the dolls who only loved their owners so much.

All in all I thought this was a good film - it wasn't super scary but there were some heart racing bits and it all had a creepy edge to it. Some people think the story was unoriginal but I don't think it was. I also think it was sad and sweet how the dolls loved their owners so much because they only had them to love. I absolutely adore the girl who plays Mina and definitely want to cosplay her in the future - both normal and evil doll versions! It turns out Korean ball-jointed doll company Custom House made dolls for most of the case, especially Mina, and released Mina's commerically for anyone to buy. I'd love to buy it for cosplay purposes but I bet it's really rare and expensive. I could always try to get another doll, change the wig, eyes, face-up, outfit, etc. (see, I know my shit!) and make it like Mina but it's a bit hard work to say I'm not into dolls and it'd only be used once or twice.

Mina. I think the actress looks half Indian, half Korean but I can't find any info anywhere!

Some people have questions they think are unanswered, like:

Why did Hae-mi just toss out Mina even though she really loved her? Well, kids are fickle. She will have loved her for a long time but eventually kids want other things and newer, prettier toys are much nicer to them. What was your favourite childhood toy? Mine was a ragdoll called Rosie but I vomited on her and after months of my mum saying she was going to wash her (yes, I still carried her around with sick on!) I eventually gave up and moved to other toys. I still had a dislike for any ragdolls that weren't Rosie though.

Where was the red kimono lady doll? Mrs Im took it but you never saw it. That's because it possessed Mrs Im! There's also "If the spirit left Mrs Im, where did it go?" ...Seriously? It died! >_> It wouldn't have left her if it could have helped it.

So anyway, I quite liked this film! Mina is absolutely perfect in my eyes, she is so doll-like and adorable, definitely future cosplay material! I recommend checking this movie out if you're a fan of Asian horror/Asian films in general! In the meantime, here's some more images from the film!

Mina's doll, thrown out the window by Hae-mi as a child. Presumeably found by Mrs Im and took to her museum. She became flesh and blood when Hae-mi visited the doll museum in the hopes she could be with her again.

Another photoset of Mina reverting back to normal. Some people think Mina's acting is wooden but I think it was spot on! She looks so sad here, it's heart breaking!

The actress who plays Mina. So perfect looking! *0* Do you think I could do a good cosplay of this?


  1. I saw this movie a long time ago and I loved it but, since I don't like watching horror movies by myself I made my mom watch it with me. Big mistake. She was asking me what they were saying because, she can't see very well. But it was fun.

    1. Aww, that's a shame but so sweet of you, heh heh! I love horror movies but I have an over-active imagination so I sometimes scare myself accidentally! I have to walk past my stairs if I go to the toilet in the night and every time, EVERY TIME, I think "What if I walk past and someone is standing at the bottom of the stairs?" T_T