Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kick-Ass won't kick any ass in South Korea

It looks like the profanity-filled and comically violent adaptation of "Kick-Ass" has been banned in South Korea because it's just too offensive:
Matthew Vaughn’s comic book adaptation has come under much criticism for its profanities, specifically the c word from the 11 year old hit-girl character played by Chloe Mortez. However Vaughn defended the film from such criticism by saying he has yet to receive a single complaint, but it now appears that the films stream of bad language and particularly the violence of Hit-Girl has caused South Korean officials to ban the film from its cinema screens.

South Korea has a history of banning offensive films – only last year the poster for Park Chan-wook’s Thirst was banned, and they have previously banned films including Kubricks A Clockwork Orange, horror thriller Scream and Apocalypse Now.
A Clockwork Orange? Apocalypse Now? When someone says someone "has a history" of doing something (like banning offensive films), I'm imagining that they do it a lot or regularly; I'm not imagining that you have to actually go back into history to find an example. Orange and Now were from the Park Chunghee era (the latter just barely), some three or four decades ago.

Anyway, as one of those prudes who thinks movies and TV have pushed the envelope too far when it comes to pushing envelopes, I'm glad the authorities are still willing to say "Whoa!" to a film every now and then.


  1. korea still bans controversial films; the most recent example i can remember is when they recently lifted the ban on john cameron-mitchell's 'shortbus.'

    i assume they mentioned a clockwork orange and apocalypse now because kick-ass is of that calibre.

    i'm a cinephile so i'm opposed to this kind of censorship, but it's not that threatening in this day and age. i'm using the internet, fools!

  2. I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of Kick-Ass a few weeks ago.

    To say the film surpassed my expectations would miss the point; I entered with none.

    To say they film surprised me would be an understatement. It was undoubtedly one of the best films I've seen in a very long time.

    It's not that the complaints leveled at the film aren't accurate - it's violent. Brutally and unflinchingly so. It's inappropriate, though the widely reported c-bomb failed to make it into the final cut.

    These maligned elements, however, are crucial to the stylistic direction taken by the film, to the points it makes, and to the integrity of the work as a whole.

    Kick-Ass is brilliant. To censor it is to deprive an audience of a piece of cinematic art. Film is all too easily regarded as mere popcorn entertainment for the masses, and to a large extent this attitude has shaped not only public opinion and policy but also the output of the movie industry in general. It troubles me to see a work that bucks convention become the target censorship and to see the movie-going public given so little credit that they must be protected from such a piece for their own good.

    Am I applying my wholly Western and extremely Liberal sensibilities to a culture of which I lack a considerable amount of both knowledge and understanding? Absolutely, but I think this is a broader discussion, and while I see both sides of the coin, it always troubles me when a government body is appointed on behalf of the people to make the subjective call as to what is acceptable art and what is gratuitous.

    "Is it a masterpiece or just some guy with his pants down?

    That's our topic tonight on Smartline..."

  3. Shinbone, "Short Bus" was effectively banned in most theaters in America, too, methinks, since it was NR or NC-17, which most theaters by policy will not show.

    James, I generally take your recommendations seriously, since we tend to like the same television fare, so I'll try to check it out, though my current movie-going partner(s) would probably not like this too much. "M" walked out of our dorm's showing of "Thirst" (a Korean vampire flick mentioned in the article above). When I'm on the Mainland, my movie-going partner is usually my mother, and she doesn't usually like violent films, even though she asks me to put them in the Netflix queue for her.

    Can you give me a good reference point for level/type of violence? "Dusk till Dawn"? "The Departed"? "Smokin' Aces"? "Watchmen"?

    Certainly one problem with South Korean prudishness is that it is highly inconsistent. There used to be no explicit sex scenes and only occasional violence and them — BAM! — we have lengthy explicit sex scenes from movies like "Yellow Hair" and a string of others, plus violent gang flicks.

    I guess one thing they're worried about is the monkey-see-monkey-do kinda thing as faux gangster posturing has become almost out of control in schools nowadays.

    Anyway, not sure what to make of this. I'll have a more informed idea once I see it.

  4. I saw a huge ad for "Kick Ass" at a the theater in Yongdeungpo a few days ago. I didn't catch when it was opening as I was driving and didn't want to hit the guy in front of me.

    I'll keep an eye out.

  5. too bad, i like kickass..theyre advertising it at my cgv, but noone here knows it, i doubt if it would get many viewers.

    oh well...

  6. I saw a lot of manga influence in this movie.

    Maybe I'm just too old fashioned but I don't like seeing 11 year olds wield guns and shooting people dead.


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