Note: This review was written July 1st, 2014. I intend to revisit this film down the line.
I Saw the Devil is a 2010 South Korean psychological thriller directed by Kim Ji-woon.
This director also had a hand in directing films like A Tale of Two Sisters, and the American film, The Last Stand starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The film stars Choi Min-sik and Lee Byund-hun. Lee Byund-hun is known for his appearances in G.I. Joe and Red 2. Although, the only thing that I really know him from was his appearance in Three … Extremes. He’ll also be in the new Terminator: Genesis film.
Meanwhile, Choi Min-sik is one of the most respected actors in all of Korea. He’s most-known for his tremendous performance in the film Oldboy. He’ll be appearing in the film, Lucy later this month. (A film that I definitely would love to write a review over.)
In this film, Choi Min-sik plays the role of a vicious and vindictive serial-killer. He’s brutal, and oftentimes even rapes his victims before murder. However, his latest victim is the pregnant fiance of a secret agent played by Lee Byund-hun. I Saw the Devil is about a man’s pursuit to extract revenge against the person that killed his soon-to-be wife.
It isn’t exactly about one catching the other. The secret-agent has no problem finding the serial-killer. However, the film seems to be about who can torture the other one the most.
There is no winner. Rather, it’s a sadistic and tormented horror-film focusing on the hatred between two people and blurred line between good and evil.
The film definitely could have ended up as nothing more than a splatter film, but it doesn’t. It’s the kind-of film that probably shouldn’t work but simply does. The idea of revenge against murder has definitely been seen before, but rarely is it seen to this magnitude.
There’s a lot of depth in the performances of each of characters, especially Choi Min-sik who feels absolutely unrelenting in his role of a monstrous and disgraceful human-being. He feels harrowing in his realism. Min-sik is definitely gifted in that category. In-retrospect, he can seem unstoppable, but while watching, he acts in such a flawed and real way that it feels real. And by the end of the movie, he only worsens himself morally.
Lee Byund-hun definitely brings real emotion into the role as well. They never really tap into the initial premise very that. That is, it never feels like a good-guy turned bad in his pursuit of revenge. The transition seems much too quick.
It feels more like a guy that has something bad happen to him and his morals snap like a twig at a moment’s notice.
I think I like to look of it that way better than what some of the outside characters were trying to get across. I like to look at it as more of an exchange between two tremendous characters. It’s the perfect yin and yang of two different walks of life, not good and evil. Evil, yes, … the serial-killer is definitely evil, but I wouldn’t exactly call the other person ‘good’.
By the end of the film, it definitely feels like both characters have been through the ringer.
I think that this movie is probably one of the best that I can recommend for anybody that wants to start watching South Korean films. The flick has a lot of the emotion being gotten across through body-language and through actions.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this one. The characters aren’t exactly the most in-depth in-terms of development, but their hatred for each-other feels deeply expressed. Some of the things that happen might be a little over-the-top, but for the most part, the actors made it feel well-grounded.
It’s a terrifically entertaining film filled with emotion, dark subject-matter, and two characters that I really liked against each-other.
Thanks for reading…