I Saw The Devil (2010), finally! It was sitting in my Netflix queue for a couple years now and I finally got around to watching it. Dammit, am I disappointed I waited this long! Let’s do a little review of it shall we?
A quick synopsis. I saw The Devil is a Korean psychological thriller/horror film directed by Kim Jee-woon that stars Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik. The film centers around secret agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), whose fiancée is brutally slain by serial killer Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik). Let the game of cat and mouse begin!
The entire film starts off with a tense flat tire type situation, which inevitably leads to the serial killer doing what serial killers do. The violence of this first kill sets up the standard for the escalating brutality of the movie. If you’ve ever seen Oldboy (2003) you’ll quickly have an idea of how the kills and torture are presented in I saw The Devil. You will also recognize the serial killer! Revenge movies and Choi Min-sik, peanut butter and chocolate man. His killer is just fun to watch. He’s confident and cocky, and is apparently one of the toughest humans alive, that man can take a beating!
The truly fascinating aspects of the film stem from the consequences of each characters actions. There is a direct line of cause and effect that pushes the film forward. Each action builds off of the previous one until you end up with fairly fantastic situations that were reached in a seemingly linear fashion. It’s truly incredible storytelling. Yes it’s violent, yes it’s gruesome, but it’s also an awesome character study! The films denizens follow their role to the hilt. Everyone has their part in the film, and they follow it through to the natural conclusion. There’s no waffling here, the characters are who they are and stick to it doggedly!
Every twist and turn that I Saw The Devil makes is pretty damn entertaining. There are definitely moments of wondering where in the hell they are going to take the story now! That’s what makes it so much fun though. Be warned, there will be moments of wincing and squirming as a viewer. Penile violence, screwdrivers going where they shouldn’t, bloody cab rides. To give you an idea of the level of comfort I’m talking about, here’s an example. The serial killer is about to cut up a victim for disposal, victim is still alive. Barely. With the victims arm outstretched as they lay on the ground, the killer goes and selects a knife from his bench. At this point I started getting a real Scarface (1983) feel about things. I remember watching the chainsaw scene in Scarface as a kid, and the feeling that I got just before the gangsters removed the arm of Tony Montana’s cousin was the same feeling I had just before I Saw The Devil‘s killer removed his victims’ arm.
I would highly recommend this film to damn near anybody. It was simply a well made film. It must be said too, the movie is about 2 1/2 hours. Unfortunately, there are just too many movies getting made with shorter and shorter run times. So we’re kind of getting acclimated to 90 minute run times. Be prepared, they need every minute to tell this story.
One final note. A couple years ago there was talk of an English remake. Please don’t do it. Just. Please don’t.
Thanks for reading everybody!