UPDATE: Thanks to a couple comments and emails, we now know that the first reports about alterations to the film were exaggerated: I Saw the Devil has been trimmed via seven cuts, not minutes. So things aren’t as severe as first reported, which is excellent. Original article follows.

A few weeks ago I showed you the trailer for I Saw the Devil, a crime thriller from The Good, the Bad, the Weird director Kim Ji-Woon. The trailer is loaded with atmosphere and visually impressive. And the film has a great cast: Lee Byung-hyun of The Good, the Bad, the Weird and Choi Min-sik from Oldboy.

But earlier this week the film ran into trouble: it was given a harsh rating in Korea, effectively banning it from most Korean cinemas. Cuts have now been made and the film will be given a general release. But how much was lost?

Earlier this week, despite producers’ plans to release the film with an ‘Teenager restricted’ rating (not quite an equivalent to NC-17, but close) the film was given a much harsher ‘Limited Screening’ tag. As Twitch said, that effectively allows the film to be shown only in “special theaters that only show adult films. Currently no such theaters exist, meaning the film has effectively been banned.”

That ‘Limited Screening’ rating was given twice, and the film was slightly recut after the first one to minimize concern over, as the ratings board said, footage that “severely damage the dignity of human values.”

The film has now been cleared for release in regular theaters — with that ‘Teenager Restricted’ tag that means only 18+ can enter — but to get it seven minutes had to be cut. It opened today.

To the Korea Times (via Twitch, again) Kim Ji-woon said this cut is “sushi with a little less wasabi. The savory texture of the fish is still there but with a little less tang.” According to the report, “While subtle hints of “Hannibal-esque” cannibalism remain, explicit depictions of handling human body parts like pork chops are gone.” Which version will play international festivals like Toronto, where the film is scheduled to appear? We don’t know.

Here’s the synopsis once more, and another embed of the trailer:

Kyung-chul is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state.

Her fiance Dae-hoon, a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer.

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