18 - 141mins - Crime/Drama/Horror - 29th April 2011
A foreign movie from the country of South Korea, I Saw The Devil keeps in tune with many of the films to successfully make it out of Korea with it's dark and gory plot based around revenge.
It follows Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) who is a highly trained agent. One night while stranded on the side of the road after her car breaks down, Kim's pregnant fiancée is attacked and brutally murdered by Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). This isn't the first time he's murdered and it's sure not to be the last. What he doesn't reckon on though is Kim hunting him down for retribution.
Both killer and fiancé are continuously interlocked in a game of wits and ever more sadistic acts on both each other and bystanders as they slowly converge towards the end of the movie. As Kim is dragged ever downwards into the world of violence, he treads a fine line with turning into the monster that he is hunting and it is fair to say that many of the scenes in this film will have you feeling slightly uncomfortable if you're not well prepared.
Choi impresses as the masochistic killer who is a complete opposite from Lee's calm and collected demeanour. Both actors bring breathe life into their characters that only seem to become more complex as the film unfolds. Having started out as two opposites, they slowly merge into one and it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish who should get the viewers support.
I wasn't exactly sure where this movie was going to go especially after an hour when it could quite plausibly have finished with a few tweaks but continue on it did and I am all the more happy because of it. There is plenty of action and fight scenes split in between the character development and where normal revenge films seem to keep both protagonists apart until the end, Jee-woon Kim (the director) was on a mission to bring them together into every scene. The music perfectly suits the mood and is only trumped by the cinematography which was exemplary.
As mentioned, this is not one for the faint hearted or squeamish but the performances are fantastic and it really gives an insight into the minds of a serial killer and a man so stricken with grief that he can only comprehend vengeance. This ranks up there with my other favourite Korean movie Oldboy and although I Saw The Devil's plot may be based on a tried and tested idea, its execution is very refreshing and keeps you guessing right until the very end.
Korean director Kim Ji-Woon has always been a film festival favorite and he has been one of Korea’s directors I follow religiously as with Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy), Kim Ki-Duk (The Isle), Hong Sang-Soo (Woman On The Beach), Lee Chang-Dong (Secret Sunshine) and Ryu Seung-Wan (Arahan). Kim has always been the kind of filmmaker that always stuck to his own style but never has he sacrificed content for style. His “A Tale of Two Sisters” is still arguably the best horror film in the … more
It can be difficult to find a way in to the cinema of another culture, and, even despite its impressive catalog of really excellent films, the Korean New Wave is no exception. Park Chan Wook's movies ("Oldboy" and "Thirst", among others) are one way in, but they are often so stylized, and the style so different from what plays at the multiplex, as to be offputting. The bestselling movie in Korea, Bong Joon-Ho's "The Host," is a monster-comedy; … more
Kim Ji-Woon does it again! A truly unrelenting violent film that has all the emotional and dramatic impact to portray a very human reaction....the need for vengeance. Amazingly well-acted and definitely well-executed; Kim is joined by Choi Min-Sik and Lee Byung-Hun to bring forth a dark like coal tale of rage, anger and psychosis wrapped around an action- horror-thriller that may be one of the best Korean films of 2011! See the full review here. … more
A shockingly violent and stunning tale of murder and revenge. The embodiment of pure evil, Kyung-chul is a psychopath who kills for pleasure. His latest victim was not only the daughter of a retired police chief, but also the pregnant fianc?e of elite special agent Soo-hyun. Obsessed with revenge, Soo-hyun is determined to track down the murderer, even if doing so means becoming a monster himself. Turning Kyung-chul in to the authorities is the last thing on Soo-hyun's mind, as the lines between good and evil fall away in this diabolically twisted game of cat and mouse.