Love and Leashes: 11 Quotes from Netflix’s New Korean BDSM Film (Reviewed by a Real Submissive)

BDSM film love and leashes is available on Netflix

I was immediately sceptical when I heard the popular streaming service had released a new BDSM film. Without throwing shade to Fifty Shades (not that I’ve submitted myself to that cinematic experience…), BDSM has not received the best reception through mainstream media.

Kink is often used either a) in comedy as a humourous gag (…😉) or b) in crime thrillers as a convenient plot device to explain some villain’s nefarious tendencies.

Lately, however, it appears that the rising popularity of BDSM has led towards a redemption in the media portrayal of the lifestyle.

Netflix’s latest K-drama Love and Leashes‘ depiction of a D/s dynamic is actually incredibly wholesome and, dare I say, the most accurate depiction of BDSM I’ve yet to see on screen!

So, without giving away too much of the plot, I thought it would be interesting to review the film from the perspective of a submissive who legitimately practices BDSM in real life.

Warning: there may be some spoilers ahead. If that’s your hard limit, I invite you to stop reading here and watch the film for yourself first (and then, of course, please come back to read my full review😅). With that said, let’s crack on, shall we?

First, a brief synopsis of the BDSM film

The intimidating Jung Ji-woo (Seohyun) works in the PR department of a corporation, into which the well-liked Jung Ji-hoo (Lee Jun-Young) transfers as the Assistant Manager. The similarity of their names leads to Ji-woo accidentally receiving a parcel meant for Ji-hoo.

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When Ji-woo opens it, she discovers a sizeable spiked dog collar. Ji-hoo panics, and it’s revealed that he is a male submissive into BDSM, which intrigues Ji-woo’s curiosity.

Though Ji-woo doesn’t have any knowledge of BDSM play, after doing some research, she agrees to become Ji-hoo’s temporary Master under a three-month BDSM contract. Though their D/s relationship starts off contractual, it’s quickly complicated by their work relationship and personal feelings. 

Overall, Love and Leashes is a lighthearted BDSM film, and the BDSM play depicted in it is relatively mild. Despite the age rating for the thematic elements, there isn’t any nudity in the film, and the tension between the two main characters leans more sensual than outright sexual throughout.

Additionally, I appreciated the film’s emphasis on consent between Master and submissive, which was further accentuated through a secondary character’s risky encounter with a predatory ‘fake Dom’ (more on that later on).

Though not without some criticism (which I can mostly excuse due to aesthetic and time constraints of film as a medium), I think Love and Leashes really serves to educate the viewers about self-acceptance, respecting boundaries, and healthy BDSM play without shying away from the pitfalls not uncommon when beginners start out in a D/s dynamic (for tips on starting your own dynamic, check out Dom sub Relationships: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners).

That said, I’ll rate this BDSM film a cheeky 4.5 spanks out of 5 😉

Netflix's new BDSM film Love and Leashes
Netflix’s new BDSM film Love and Leashes. Image credit: Netflix.com.

And now the BDSM film quotes

Below are eleven quotes from the film that stood out to me and my brief commentary as they pertain to BDSM play.

Quote 1: “No relationship is perfectly equal in this world. When two people meet, the power dynamic shifts to one or the other. No matter the intention. Perhaps, deep down, the instinctive desire to dominate or submit to another person is tucked away in our subconscious.”

As the film’s provocative opening line suggests, power dynamics are intrinsic within all sorts of interpersonal encounters.

Individuals who participate in BDSM play purposefully accentuate and manipulate these deep-rooted power structures of dominance and submission for a desired effect.

That effect may be to highlight the existing hierarchy between people within specific interactions, or conversely to subvert these traditional standards, so the players involved can derive pleasure (in this case with Ji-hoo as a male submissive and Ji-woo as his female Dominant — also known as a Domme). 

Quote 2: “Isn’t there at least one secret desire waiting within your heart that you can’t admit to anyone?”

I don’t know many people who don’t struggle in some way to communicate their desires with others, be they partners, friends or family.

The reality is, communicating openly and authentically about your core desires puts you in a position of vulnerability. That is a scary place to be if you’re afraid of being judged, rejected, or casually dismissed.

Those interested in kink and BDSM may feel they need to suppress or hide their preferences due to a fear that others won’t understand their desires or that their passions will be misinterpreted as being abnormal or amoral.

Whilst there is always a risk that people will misunderstand your kinks, it is necessary to realise that many people are simply uneducated about BDSM — especially if their knowledge about the subject comes from what they learn through media-perpetuated clichés.

However, as Ji-woo rightly puts it in the film, people who really care for you will take the time to understand what you love.

And if you struggle with explaining your desires to your partner, a simple exercise in self-reflection (for more details, check out A Five Minute Core Desires Exercise Which Leads to Hotter Sex) can be really beneficial in understanding what underlying feelings draw you to specific fantasies.

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Quote 3: “Guys have an instinct to hunt within them. They have an inclination to dominate after chasing and hunting their prey.”

Ok, I know the film centres on a male submissive and female Dominant; however, a major theme Love and Leashes seeks to address is the perpetuation of gender roles, particularly in the workplace and a conservative society at large.

What I really appreciate in the film is the mutual respect emphasised between the two protagonists. Ji-woo isn’t portrayed as some damsel-in-distress in need of saving, and Ji-hoo acknowledges her competence though perhaps he does come off a bit too eager for her to be his Master the moment he suspects she may be into BDSM.

I’m willing to let this slide as he does back off afterwards as she comes to her own decision in her own time, respecting her initial refusal as just that.

It’s refreshing to see a BDSM film that repeatedly emphasises consent and the respect of personal boundaries between submissive and Dominant.

Quote 4: “There are more of us out there than we think. Just look at us. No one who knows us would ever think we’re into it.”

So true! Something that I really appreciate about the BDSM community is its overwhelming diversity. The more I interact with others in the lifestyle, the more that idea is affirmed.

Anyone can be kinky; from the most straight-laced to the most alternative, we’re out there somewhere… 👀

Quote 5: “D/s is more of a psychological game based on relationship dynamics”… “Psychological restriction is just as important as physical S and M play.”

Mind games, mind games, mind games. It certainly is true that the most powerful sex organ we possess is our brain.

Is there a submissive out there who doesn’t absolutely drool at the thought of a Dominant expertly crafting an oh-so-perfect BDSM scene fine-tuned to make your brain turn to mush… or is that just me?

Conveniently, Chief does an excellent job of detailing exactly how to create BDSM scenes that utilise psychological play for the most incredible sensations in his book Sensational Scenes!

Give me the spanking and bondage too, but in truth? Often the quickest way to make my legs quiver is a well-timed whispered affirmation of just the kind of submissive my Dominant knows me to be. 

I think Love and Leashes could have addressed this topic better. Though I understand there are certain time constraints present in a film, I believe the plot could have spent a bit more time delving into the psychology of Dominance and submission within the characters, although it was hinted at very subtly.

Of course, the film’s subtlety with this aspect of D/s play is perhaps easier for a general audience to digest without much knowledge of BDSM. So I can’t fault a lighthearted rom-com too much for being, well, just that. 

Quote 6: “The Dom must always look perfect to the sub.”

Here is another point of criticism I have with the film. Expecting perfection from either Dominant or submissive is a quick route to dissatisfaction for the other.

Although the film does a good job of portraying some pitfalls that practitioners might experience within a new BDSM relationship, it does fall trap to the cinematic failing of depicting an accurate learning curve for any particular skillset, of which there are many in the film.

The reality is that many practical techniques used in BDSM play take a fair amount of time to learn. After watching this film, those entering into the world of BDSM might be discouraged by the practice needed to become proficient at certain skillsets.

Thankfully, BDSM doesn’t always need to be intimidating! Here are 10 Quick Tips For A Successful First Time Dominating A Submissive.

In fact, some of the most enjoyable kinky experiences can be had whilst learning a new technique. It’s important to remember, at the end of the day, BDSM is play, and that play should be fun!

Quote 7: “I like to win… even with the little things; I hate looking easy or losing to guys who act tough. I think I didn’t want others to find out that I was weak when I’m a total mess on the inside. That’s why I like the feeling of everything crumbling down. I like failing and being stomped on. I like being broken… Only by you.”

It can be challenging to explain the draw to submission one may have, and the meaning of submission will differ slightly for each sub.

Though my experience is as a female submissive, I can understand where Ji-hoo is coming from with this confession. After being overwhelmed with sensation, tense with want under the command of a Dominant, there is something immensely satisfying in the moment of breaking.

Quite simply (without getting too deep), I find my catharsis in submission.

Quote 8: “Just because I’m a pervert doesn’t give you the right to mistreat me.” 

Though I’m not keen on the term ‘pervert’ personally, I have to applaud the sensitivity with which Love and Leashes, as a BDSM film, handled consent and negotiations within relationship dynamics.

Though they could have ignored it entirely in the name of romantic comedy, the film made a point to address the unfortunate reality that individuals out there will manipulate power dynamics to prey on those in positions of vulnerability.

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There is a moment in the film in which a character finds themselves in a dangerous situation where their consent is being ignored by a ‘fake Dom’ (as so labelled in the film).

Although it’s made clear this Dominant has attempted to force themself upon the submissive, the film avoids using shock horror to make its point. The vulnerable person finds their own way out of the situation and into the safe company of friends.

That said, I think the film could have better established the importance of safety in BDSM play (such as meeting a new potential play partner in public and having a designated safe person within easy contact, etc.), instead of just relying on a slightly scary ‘what could have been but thankfully wasn’t’ moment.

Quote 9: Dominance and submission is “a relationship between one who commands and one who obeys”… “Based on a clear hierarchy, whereas in romance we aim for equality” … “Commanding and obeying is love too. But you can’t base love on that alone.”

Another central theme of Love and Leashes is the conflict between kinky desire and personal emotions, as the main characters find themselves wanting to explore the former at the expense of the latter.

Whilst I know this can be an issue within BDSM relationships that see BDSM as the primary function of the dynamic (and it only takes a quick scroll through BDSM subreddits to see how much of an issue this can be); a criticism I would have with the film is the perpetuation of the idea that a BDSM relationship most often exists outside the realm of a romantic relationship.

Although I don’t have any numbers to back myself up, I don’t believe this is necessarily the case, and I know of many fulfilling BDSM dynamics that occur within equally fulfilling romantic relationships.

Personal desires may be tricky, emotions complicated, and humans confusing in the best of times. Be that as it may, I truly believe that all relationships, no matter the dynamic, can greatly benefit through increased communication — something which is absolutely vital in BDSM relationships. (As an added bonus, it will also lead to Better Sex with Expert Communication, yay!)

Quote 10: “The person who is tied up feels euphoric and free from the tingliness that comes from the restriction of blood flow. Feeling free from the moment they are bound is the paradox of pain. Because of its high level of difficulty, it’s hard to predict the results.”

This quote is both good and bad representation of BDSM play, in my opinion. A euphoric feeling of freedom the moment I’m bound up in rope? Check!

However, I do worry about those suggested ‘tingly’ feelings. Those playing with rope bondage need to be incredibly cautious about nerve damage. Take note, readers: tingly fingers is not a sensation to aim for!

(Just starting out with rope? Check out Rope Bondage: How to Restrain Someone with Rope For Beginners for tying tips and safety considerations.)

However, I will give the film bonus points for doing their research during the artful montage in which Ji-woo skillfully prepares her rope for bondage. I may have had a nerdy moment of glee when she even took the time to burn off the stray fibres.

The whole scene got me positively aching to be tied up again (hint hint Chief 😉)!

Quote 11: “No relationship is perfectly equal in this world, probably. But we can try to be as equal as we can until our dying breath. Dom or sub, S or M, we’re all searching for someone who will accept us as we are behind the mask.”

Awww 🥰 ok, I may be a bit of a sap, but what a lovely way to end the film!

Again, I am really impressed with how this film portrayed BDSM overall. And then add in the social conflict, romance, sexual tension, and character development all wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing package, and it’s a win for me!

I found a great quote from the director, Park Hyun-jin, who said of Love and Leashes,

“It is a story of two people forming a relationship after an incident, the unique relationship between the two, and the unfolding of their divergent double life. It is a story of two people who thought it was difficult to understand their true self, learn to understand, affirm, and accept each other.”

The Sports Chosun

Obviously, a lot of care and consideration was put into the film and it shows. Perhaps this BDSM film doesn’t have the dark, sexy intrigue of some other notable films (and really, Not Every BDSM Scene Has to Be Extreme), but I personally found it a refreshing change of pace.

However, the film’s most practical takeaway is perhaps the one that I have yet to address: Don’t post yourself kinky sex toys to your work office! That’s just a recipe for disaster.

Anyway, what do you think? Have you watched Love and Leashes yet? Do you agree with the points I made? Comment below if you’ve watched the film; I’d love to know what you think!

Wishing you all the happy spanks, 

Moineau xx

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