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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't judge something you don't know much about. Stay true to yourself. BDSM is about consent and respect.
Positive Role Models
Ji-hoo is emotionally open, honest, and a respectful person. Ji-woo is likewise respectful and doesn't shame Ji-hoo for his preferences. Ji-woo and Ji-hoo both honor their contractual agreement considerately.
The cast is Korean and Korean American. The two main roles are a man and a woman in a heteronormative contractual relationship wherein the woman is the "dominant" and the man is the "submissive."
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Violence & Scariness
Sexual violence, fear. A man threatens to hit and tie up a woman against her will after taking her to a hotel room. The woman tries to secretly call a friend, but it doesn't work and only makes the man angry. Attempted rape is implied, but the man doesn't succeed. After, a scene shows the man tied up, and the woman zapping an electric taser in her hand. Also, there are instances of sexual harassment, sexual jokes, and sexually inappropriate comments in the workplace. The other kind of "violence" on display is the contractually agreed upon "play sessions" of a man (the submissive) and a woman (the dominant), wherein the woman physically "hurts" the man by stepping on him with heels, dripping hot candle wax onto his skin, biting him, gagging him with a ball gag, whipping him, slapping him in the face, and smushing his face with her bare feet. She also yells at him, curses at him, and belittles him. The film focuses on the man's desire to be belittled and physically hurt a bit and not so much on his sexual enjoyment of anything.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man's bare back and chest are shown a few times. Two adults romantically kiss. The subtexts and themes behind everything are romance, pleasure, pain, and sex, but the movie's more mature content is violent in nature, rather than sexual.
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Strong language includes infrequent use of: "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "t-ts," "dumbass," "bitch," "hell," "piss," and "sucks."
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Products & Purchases
References to YouTube, "YouTubers," and KakaoTalk.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults are shown casually drinking beer and soju whilst dining and at bars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Love and Leashes is a Korean romantic comedy based on a webtoon by Gyeoul (Winter) about two young professionals who enter into a BDSM contractual agreement. The man, Ji-hoo, wants to be a "submissive" for a "master" (the "dominant") and finds Ji-woo interested in learning how to be that for him. They embark on an exploratory, consensual, and respectful non-romantic relationship while trying to avoid workplace embarrassments. While there's no actual sex scenes or nudity, the movie's theme is decidedly about pleasure and pain, with the film focusing on Ji-hoo's wish to be physically hurt, belittled verbally, and commanded to do things. Many scenes show Ji-woo hurting Ji-hoo (stepping on him with heels, slapping him in the face, dripping hot wax on his skin, and whipping him). There's a scene of attempted sexual violence: A man tries to rape a woman while on a date, but he doesn't succeed and instead gets tasered and tied up. Also, Ji-hoo wants to be "cursed at" so Ji-woo swears at him, using many curse words ("f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "t-ts," "dumbass," "bitch," "hell," "piss," and "sucks"), but outside of this scene, strong language is infrequent throughout. Adults are shown casually drinking beer and soju while dining and at bars. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In many ways, Love and Leashes is progressive for Korea, as this film features a submissive man wanting a dominant woman master (but not a "dominatrix" exactly). It tries to flip the conventional sexual power relationship featured so prominently in Fifty Shades of Grey. Right out of the gate, the film wants to establish that it's "sensitive and with the times" by not allowing a "homophobic" presence in their company where the two main characters work. The film tries to call out sexually inappropriate behavior and comments in the workplace. And it tries to differentiate between respectful or genuine BDSM men from "bad ones" who just want to dominant and rape women. But the film also starts with the premise that, "no relationship can be equal, power-wise... there's always one who is dominant and one who is submissive."
Additionally, given how little actual sex or directly sexual pleasure is represented (all of Ji-hoo's reactions to being hurt show some glimpses of "pleasure" but that's it), this film is clearly not meant to represent the kink community. Further, many might take issue with the fact that this film continues the myth that romance and BDSM relationships need to be and are mostly kept separate and apart. This myth is largely perpetuated by the female-as-dominatrix paradigm wherein the dominatrix (her body) is conventionally off-limits, untouchable. Indeed, the only and entire conflict or threat the film builds toward is only propped up by this misunderstanding. Basically, both adults want to date each other or be romantically involved but feel they can't because of their contractual BDSM relationship.
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