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Pieta (2012)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 6 September 2012 (South Korea)
2:02 | Trailer
A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother.


Ki-duk Kim


Ki-duk Kim
24 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Min-soo Jo ... Mi-Son
Jung-Jin Lee ... Gang-Do (as Jeong-jin Lee)
Ki-Hong Woo Ki-Hong Woo ... Hoon-chul
Eunjin Kang ... Myeong-ja (Hoon-Chul's wife)
Jae-ryong Cho Jae-ryong Cho ... Tae-seung
Myeong-ja Lee ... Mother of Suicidal Man
Jun-seok Heo Jun-seok Heo ... Suicidal Man
Kwon Yul ... Machinist with the Guitar (as Se-in Kwon)
Mun-su Song ... Borrower Who Climbs the Steps
Beom-jun Kim Beom-jun Kim ... Myeongdong Man
Jong-hak Son Jong-hak Son ... Boss
Yong-wook Jin ... Shop Owner in Wheelchair (as Jin Yong-Ok)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joon-seok Heo Joon-seok Heo ... Suicidal Man
Jae-rok Kim ... Monk
Won-jang Lee Won-jang Lee ... Sang-gu


A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An elegy for the beloved and the abandoned. See more »


Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


According to director Ki-duk Kim this film was prepared in 10 days, shot in 20 days on location and post-produced in 30 days. See more »


Gang-Do: [grabbing between her legs] I came out of here?
[she nods]
Gang-Do: Here for sure?
[she nods again]
Gang-Do: Really? Then can I go back in?
See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Venice Film Festival 2012 (2012) See more »


Happy Birthday to You
By Patty S. Hill and Mildred J. Hill
Performed by Min-soo Jo
See more »

User Reviews

Disturbing retelling of grief and Greek Tragedy
15 April 2013 | by octopuslukeSee all my reviews

  • Review originally posted at The Frame Loop. Visit www.theframeloop.com -

Even before the first image of an ominously hanging, rusty hook, Pieta comes to CPH PIX Film Festival with a great deal of infamy. The latest from South Korean, art-house provocateur Kim Ki Duk (3-Iron, The Isle) this unnerving revenge drama wowed last year's Venice Film Festival jury so much that it went on to beat Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master to the coveted Golden Lion award. Is it a better film than that aptly titled PTA project? Absolutely not. Is Pieta a gritty, harrowing and wholly engrossing exercise in cinematic tolerance? You're damn right it is.

Li Jung-Jin stars as Kang-Do, the merciless henchman to a crooked Seoul loan shark. Living in a threadbare apartment, with a diet consisting of half-cooked meat, he scuttles across the city, ruffling up people's feathers and making sure they pay up their debts, or else suffer the brutal consequences. His lonesome, pitiful existence is transformed by the arrival of Mi-Sun (Jo Min-Soo), an elderly woman claiming to be his estranged mother. Seeking repentance and the love of the inhumane monster she birthed and abandoned, the disbelieving Kang-Do puts her through a slew of horrific tests that will prove their bloodline, from eating dismembered body parts, to unsolicited incest. Boundaries are crossed, taboos busted open, and a repugnant relationship ensues.

Despite the industrial slum setting and the subtext of tooth/limbless capitalism, Pieta conforms to a typical Greek tragedy plot line. With each revelation more traumatic and sickening than the last, Kim tells the story with brute emotional force and savagery, without ever resorting to the ultra-violence made so common in South Korean cinema from the likes of Park Chan-Wook and The Vengeance Trilogy. While Jo Young-Jik's curious hand-held cinematography may look away from the most distressing of graphic acts, the pain lingers on the screen through Li and Jo's fantastic, expressionistic acting. The pair have a terse, inflammatory chemistry which is so enthralling that the mother-son relationship is all the more sickening.

Perhaps the film's success in Europe isn't all that surprising. Tackling the cruel storyline through emotional heft – without the archetypal glossy production values of the region - Pieta could be mistaken for a Lars von Trier or Gaspar Noé project. With a sublime first act, Kim gets lost in the knotty narrative he has laid out before him, and ties everything up in a stirring denouement that brings some genuine heart to the otherwise pitiful portrait of dog-eat-dog, Seoul city-living.

In that brilliant opening third, Mi-Sun turns to Kang-Do to denounce money as the 'beginning and the end of all things: love, honour, violence, fury, hatred, jealousy, revenge, death.' Unsavoury topics abound, Kim Ki-Duk combats them all with severe conviction in Pieta. If you can stomach such callousness, then this is diatribe is well worth a watch.

  • Review originally posted at The Frame Loop. Visit www.theframeloop.com -

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Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]


South Korea



Release Date:

6 September 2012 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

Pieta See more »

Filming Locations:

Seoul, South Korea See more »


Box Office


EUR103,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,222, 19 May 2013

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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