Board delays film screening for violence

  • Published : Aug 5, 2010 - 18:12
  • Updated : Aug 5, 2010 - 18:12

For the first time, a hotly anticipated feature film produced by a major studio has been slapped by the Korea Media Ratings Board with the limited engagement rule, preventing the film from a nationwide debut.

“I Saw the Devil,” set for an Aug. 11 release was recently given the harsh ruling for several violent sequences, some of which involve cannibalism, mutilation and specifically, a scene involving a serial killer tossing a human torso into a waste basket.

Lee Byung-hun stars in writer-director Kim Ji-woon’s controversial new film “I Saw the Devil.” Showbox
Such decisions are usually given to avant-garde or alternative independent films, but writer-director Kim Ji-woon’s (“The Good, the Bad, and the Weird”) summer tentpole thriller which stars Lee Byung-hun and veteran Choi Min-sik has been hindered by local censors for its gratuitous screen depictions of violence.

The result has pushed the scheduled press screening back to an undisclosed date, sounding off alarm bells for the film’s producers and its studio.

The production company chief, Peppermint Company’s Kim Hyun-woo said on Thursday the reason for the KMRB’s decision was not just based on the screen violence, but that it also had to do with the film’s leading men.

“We wanted to tell the story from the eyes of the audience -- to provoke the same vengeful impulses of the film’s hero through realistic portrayals of his revenge plan,” Kim said.

“Because we wanted to be as real as possible, those graphic scenes were needed and perhaps the intensity of the two actors’ performances contributed to the decision by the ratings board.”

Some might see Kim’s comments as an elaborate publicity stunt carefully orchestrated by the film’s marketing team to pique public interest by stirring the media pot with controversial coverage.

“We’re now in the process of making additional edits of our first cut within the boundaries of retaining the director’s artistic vision,” said Kim. “The second cut will be re-submitted to the ratings board to ensure we keep up with the original release date.”

The film follows a special agent’s (Lee) elaborate revenge scheme against a serial killer (Choi) suspected of brutally murdering his wife.

Revenge and violence have recently become the theme of the moment for the film industry with Won Bin’s “The Man from Nowhere” making noise over its screen violence and the actor’s transformation from a pretty boy to a violent madman.

Since its announcement as Kim Ji-woon’s follow up to his hugely popular “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird,” “I Saw the Devil” has been one of this year’s most anticipated films.

By Song Woong-ki (kws@heraldcorp.com)