Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One 'Severely Damaged' filmmaker

By Ethan Alter

Kim Jee-woon is one severely damaged filmmaker — but the Brooklyn Academy of Music means that in the best way possible.

The controversial South Korean gore-teur is a master of shock and splatter — and you can see why this month, as the Brooklyn Academy of Music screens six of his films in the appropriately titled retrospective, “Severely Damaged.”

That includes the gory horror picture, “A Tale of Two Sisters” (remade — and severely neutered — by Hollywood three years ago as “The Uninvited”), the gonzo Western “The Good, The Bad and The Weird,” and his latest film, “I Saw the Devil,” a disturbing thriller in which a lawman enacts a very unique and exceptionally brutal revenge on the serial killer who murdered his pregnant fiancée.

“All revenge films end the same way — they have these false happy endings,” said Jee-woon, who’ll be at the Feb. 25 screening for a Q&A. “I felt frustrated and dissatisfied with those movies and made this one thinking of a new form of revenge film. I wanted to stay closer to the realistic emotions of vengeance.”

The film’s violence certainly proved to be too real for some: “I Saw the Devil” was initially banned from public theaters in Korea. The final version was trimmed by seven minutes to appease the Korean ratings board, but those cuts were put back in for the US version, so you’ve been forewarned.

“Severely Damaged” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Feb. 25-March 2. Tickets $12 (members $7). For info, visit


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