Friday, October 27, 2017

Film Review: I Saw the Devil (2010)

I Saw the Devil (Review)
South Korea/2010
Format Viewed for Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...one of the greatest revenge thrillers of all time."

After the death of his fiancé, NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) embarks on a violent journey to avenge her death.

I Saw the Devil begins with the brutal murder of Jang Joo-yun, the fiancĂ© of NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun. After Joo-yun's death, Soo-hyun vows to avenge her by any means necessary—and he will make her killer feel the same pain she felt. So, he begins investigating her murder by targeting the lead suspects. His investigation, which consists of torture, eventually leads him to Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik). He quickly finds and beats Kyung-chul, but, instead of killing him, Soo-hyun plants a tracking device in the killer. And so, a violent game of cat-and-mouse begins between the two. There is a lot more to the plot, the movie is nearly 140 minutes long, but I won't spoil anything else. It leads a fantastic climax and a great ending.


I Saw the Devil is a masterpiece of Korean cinema. Scratch that, it's a masterpiece of cinema overall. It is an unforgettable tale of revenge. The plot is simple on the surface, meaning it's highly accessible to all audiences, but it is also multi-layered. Beyond the surface, it has interesting character arcs that complement the compelling themes. It is a film that truly makes you question 'revenge.' By doing so, it goes beyond other films in the genre. I've always applauded this film for pushing the boundaries—and I won't stop now. I love that this film dares to enter taboo territory in such a graphic manner. Along with the film's natural suspense and horror, this creates another layer of exhilaration. Although it doesn't quite reach the levels of A Serbian Film or The Human Centipede 3, this film is also very violent—violent enough to give common filmgoer nightmares. It's a modern-day video nasty with a thought-provoking story, and I love that about it.

The acting is superb. Many Korean films tend to have a pinch of overacting—like a soap opera. It grows on you, but you can tell its there. In this case, I don't really feel like any of it is overacted. Choi Min-sik delivers a sinister performance, perfectly embodying pure evil. He's clearly a dedicated actor. Lee Byung-hun is also impressive, capturing a great range of emotions as his character transforms. The film was beautifully shot—hauntingly shot—and the music was great. I actually listen to the soundtrack often. The film was written by Kim Jee-woon and Park Hoon-jung; Jee-woon also serves as director. There were a few obvious plot contrivances here, but the writing was otherwise great. Kim Jee-woon crafts a shockingly violent but beautiful film without compromise. He pulls excellent performances from his cast while never losing grip on his vision.

Overall, as I stated earlier, I Saw the Devil is a masterpiece. It is one of the greatest revenge thrillers of all time. And, yes, I consider it a horror film since it is genuinely unnerving and terrifying. If you haven't watched this film yet and if you're willing to read subtitles, you should watch I Saw the Devil as soon as possible. It may push you into an uncomfortable place, but you'll never forget this experience.

Overall: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some sex.

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