Director Kim Ki-Duk’s latest is a very brilliant film that becomes a story of redemption, but one that takes tragic turns at every corner.

Kang-Do is an underling for a local owner in a steel mining town. He spends his days going after people who owe debts. If they do not pay back their debts, he cripples them to get their insurance claims to pay back the debts. However, his life is about to change when the mysterious Mi-Son arrives.

Mi-Son claims to be the mother of Kang-Do. At first, Kang-Do refuses to believe Mi-Son. However, as time passes, he becomes convinced that Mi-Son is his mother. Kang-Do actually begins to feel remorse for those he has hurt. However, a dark secret will truly change the lives of Kang-Do and Mi-Son forever.

It is apparent that Kim Ki-Duk is Korea’s answer to Takashi Miike. He delves into both sides of the spectrum, from the extreme The Isle to the calm and collected Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring. His latest film belongs in the middle of the spectrum. Named after Michelangelo’s famous drawing of Mary holding Jesus after the crucifixion, the film follows a similar theme, a story of tragedy and redemption.

Cho Min-Soo and Lee Jung-Jin give great performances as Mi-Son and Kang-Do. Kang-Do is the true focus of the story, as he is the one who seeks redemption. Believed to have lived a life without love, Kang-Do has wet dreams and spends his time beating people and crippling them so they can claim their insurance to pay the debts. As for Mi-Son, she is seen as a woman who also yearns for love towards Kang-Do.  However, their relationship does take its share of obstacles, at times quite disturbing.

With the title and its theme, there are some religious images depicted in the film. From a sign that reads “Hallelujah Forever” to Kang-Do overlooking the city where a red-lighted cross can be seen, the film’s religious imagery proves to be both a juxtaposition and a counteraction to some of the disturbing images and the theme of the film.

Pieta is truly a masterpiece from director Kim Ki-Duk. From the religious subtext of its theme to the exciting performances of its lead stars, this is truly a film worth seeing.


A NEW Entertainment production. Director: Kim Ki-Duk. Producer: Kim Soon-Mo. Writer: Kim Ki-Duk. Cinematography: Cho Young-Jik. Editing: Kim Ki-Duk.

Cast: Cho Min-Soo, Lee Jung-Jin, Woo Ki-Hong, Kang Eun-Jin, Cho Jae-Ryong, Heo Jun-Seok, Kwon Se-In.