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3.2 out of 5 stars
49
3.2 out of 5 stars
Pieta [DVD]
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 21 November 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Kicking off with scenes of suicide, masturbation, mutilation and a desperate sex scene - and that's just the first ten minutes - Kim Ki-Duk's tale of obsessive mother love Pieta is not exactly family viewing. The impassive Jung Jin-Lee works as a collector for the Happy Private Loan Company, who are only too happy to cripple any defaulters to collect on their insurance policies, seemingly going out of their way to lend to those they know will default. He's so callous that when one defaulter kills himself (death complicating the insurance claim), he goes after her relative and takes her only possession, a pet rabbit. While the decaying Korean steel town that is his turf provides a steady trail of victims, he reluctantly finds himself starting to feel something for the first time in his life when the mother who abandoned him as a child (Min-Soo Jo) re-enters his life. At first refusing to believe her (to the point of even trying to rape her), as their relationship grows he realises that he now has something to lose if any of his victims ever seek revenge and gradually starts to change his ways...

Of course, you just know that this isn't a story that's going to end well, and not just for the rabbit, but the how and why isn't necessarily what you expect, Kim's restrained, unsensational direction of his sensational material and the strong but unshowy performances making its somewhat unlikely tale of redemption and damnation seem more credible than it should. There's an excellent sense of place in the dying town without hope and some memorable confrontations with his clients, including an old man with no intention to repay the loan and a young man cheerfully determined to become even more of a cripple than the loan shark wants so that he'll come out ahead on the deal and his yet-to-be-born son will have everything he doesn't. Ultimately it doesn't add up to much more than a low-key mood piece, but it's a surprisingly compelling one while you're watching it even if it may not linger that long in the memory after.

StudioCanal's DVD offers a solid widescreen transfer with a few slight edge enhancement issues in a few shots. The only extra is the international trailer.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 October 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This Korean film could have been tailor-made to my tastes but I rather suspect it will be too harsh for many. I'm a fan of world cinema; of psychological thrillers; of films which explore the boundaries of the acceptable, and I'm comfortable with the stark portrayal of realistic violence where it serves a credible dramatic purpose.
Pieta is all that, and much more. It's an astonishing modern-day noir which explores the mother-son relationship, and loss and revenge, the formation of character and the possibility of redemption. The brutal debt collector who despises his irresponsible clients, who is quite capable of raping and maiming - even he may not be beyond salvation. Indeed, he doesn't seem capable of killing an eel or a rabbit, although he thinks little of pushing a man from the second floor and then breaking his leg a bit more, just to make sure the debtor is properly crippled...

This is a bleak and powerful exploration of the worst aspects of humanity, wrapped up in a sneakily compelling narrative and featuring two stand-out performances from the lead actors. The slum workshops of a modern Korean city, soon to be demolished to make way for gleaming hi-rise office blocks, form the perfect backdrop for what should be a story of urban despair. Except not all of the incidental characters are without hope or aspiration. one young husband, about to become a father for the first time, happily accepts being crippled in order to give his child a decent start in life. It's a slap in the face way to explore parental devotion, indeed.
Oh -- and the title? Refers to 'piety', or indeed 'pity'. More food for thought...

Definitely 18-rated, and definitely worth your time IF you have a strong flinch threshold and appreciate a controversial moral debate. But don't pick this up thinking it's a standard-issue martial arts revenge flick. It's much more arthouse than mainstream.
8/10
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 December 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a fan of the Saw series I am not averse to revenge horror but this pushed my resolve to its limits.

A debt-collector/loan-shark who enjoys inflicting pain and suffering on others when they can't pay what they owe finds his life shaken to the core by a woman who turns up and claims to be his long lost mother.

The violence was too much even for me (and I am a Forensic and Criminal Psychologist who has visited crime scenes and seen it in person) and it took every shred of self-control not to switch it off. There is no justification or reasoning to the violence which there is in the Saw films (especially the early ones). I know that most of it is implied, but it still got to me.

This film apparently won awards at a film festival in Venice and though I can see that the lead actor when the whole hog on his role but the film! It's not a good one. The story should have been enticing but it failed and that may have been due to the appallingly done subtitles as much as the script.

It appears that the whole ideology of the film was to shock with perversion than to psychologically play with your mind - and worse than that it became repetitive and boring.

This just wasn't for me.
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VINE VOICEon 17 July 2014
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The 18th film by noted ‘art house’ director Kim Ki-duc, and the first Korean piece to win the highest prize at one of the ‘big three’ film festivals (Berlin, Venice and Cannes).

A highly stylistic work, with plenty of junta-position between Christian symbology and graphic sexual content, Pieta garnered largely positive critical reviews despite the uncomfortable subject matter of an ‘incestuous' relationship between a man and a woman claiming to be his mother.

Not a pleasant, nor easy film to watch. Perhaps one for fans of Korean or Asian cinema in general, and especially fans of some of the more gruesome works from that part of the world, like the excellent Oldboy, or Ichi The Killer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 December 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This South Korean tale of revenge, death and redemption is an entirely colourless, sordid and dreary affair, which requires a pretty strong (or else insensitive) constitution to stomach, with director Ki-duk Kim playing particularly to Western squeamishness in places, I suspect. That said, the film is more arty than it is slasher and once it settles down (and if you can abide its over-riding unpleasantness) it has a quirky and at times clever plot line that makes it worth slogging through to the end.

A Western audience may well find most of the performances far from convincing, although Min-soo Jo's portrayal of the enigmatic and mysterious woman who one day appears in the life of debt collector Gang-Do (Jeong-jin Lee) claiming to be the mother who abandoned him at birth is marvellously disconcerting. Jo Young-Jik's cinematographic portrait of the squalor of the industrial sectors of South Korea is also quite breathtaking (albeit in a bad sort of way.) While I doubt that the film will do well in the mainstream, I would expect it to become a cult classic in fairly short order.

The disc only offers the original Korean soundtrack with subtitles (no English dialogue overdub version) which has to be a good thing.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 November 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
ove this film. it is dark and at times difficult to watch, not for the faint hearted. the story line revolves around a debt collector and his twisted ways of getting money out of clients. the plot is fab, and the style is so different from the usual western/hollywood sterile offerings. really good entertainment if you like a bit of on-screen violence!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 December 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Pieta is anything but ordinary. Although it has some shocking & disturbing content, it is delivered in a detached and careful manner that certainly isn't trying to glorify or sensationalise. Unfortunately, the mood is so detached that I found it hard to relate to or empathise with the characters. Could a brutal debt collector really `fall' so hard for a mother-figure appearing in his life? I couldn't say but putting aside the plausibility of the story, the film is very well made in an extremely realistic style. It reveals a disturbing underworld of poverty and violence in Korea's tiger economy - better known for its powerful conformism - and highlights the extremes of human interaction that Hollywood doesn't dare to explore. I'm glad I've seen it but I doubt I'll watch it again anytime soon.
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This Korean movie features an extremely unpleasant debt collector who likes nothing better than to injure people to claim compensation to pay their debts.The plot is very random and bad editing spoils the flow of the film but the run down locations used in the film were excellent.This film could well end up in the top 25 most disturbing films of all time;number 1 at present is Irreversible (2002).
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VINE VOICEon 10 May 2014
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother.

Peta has been well received by a global audience but I found it had little new to say. If you haven't seen Sympathy for Mr Vengeance or Ong Bak then I'd visit those first.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Banal and tedious Korean revenge film with the requisite use of ultra-violence. Although the violence comes across as more cartoonish and bizarre than some of the better known exponents of this genre (namely Chan-Wook Park 'Vengeance' trilogy). It had a few well-timed dark humourous moments but not much else to recommend this film.
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