Lee-Kang-Do is a self-absorbed, morally corrupt enforcer whose job is to collect money from desperate workers in the slums of Cheonggyecheon. Kang-Do has no sense of pity, as he charges these poor souls ten times what they borrowed in interest when it's time to collect. Many of these individuals simply can't afford that type of markup so Kang-Do routinely cripples these men and woman, taking their insurance claim money to make up the difference of payment. One day while Kang-Do is out conducting his typical routine, he notices that a mysterious woman seems to be following him around. She claims to be his mother, who left him at birth, but Kang-Do's inability to understand compassion and love is a barrier she must overcome. Kim Ki-Duk's Pieta is a great example of a film with a great and fascinating concept, which ultimately falters because of some suspect character decisions by it's characters that just arent fleshed out enough to be believable. The film's primary theme revolves around love and revenge, but Pieta pushes too hard towards its theme in a way that ends up being a detriment to its characters when certain scenes and motivations don't feel organic. Pieta does a great job at capturing Kang-Do's inability to understand his mother's compassion for him and we see how early own their relationship is very awkward. As the film progresses, we slowly see Kang-Do go through a transformation, his rough exterior slowly deteriorating as he begins to love and care for his mother. Without giving too much away, my problem with how the story unfolds is more than anything a character decision or lack there of, involving the mother about two thirds into the film. It just doesn't feel right, and I believe the film needed a bigger dramatic beat to illustrate this incredibly dark decision she makes. For me the strongest aspect of Pieta is easily the critique of commerce and greed, done subtlety but still illustrating the age old idea that "money is the cause of all evil". Kim Ki-Duk's Pieta is a film that in concept I loved, and while I thought the film took a few too many liberties in getting to its fantastically grim conclusion, I still found it to be one of Kim Ki-Duk's best films.
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