DVD I Saw the Devil

DVD I Saw the Devil
DVD I Saw the Devil

Run time: 141 min
Rating: 7.8
Genres: Crime | Drama | Thriller
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Writers: Hoon-jung Park
Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, In-seo Kim
Storyline
Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a dangerous psychopath who kills for human meat. 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 fiancé Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), 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. Written by jck movies
Plot Keywords: secret agent, psychopath, murder, police chief, revenge
Details:
Country: South Korea
Release Date: 29 April 2011 (UK)
Box Office
Opening Weekend: $13,567 (USA) (4 March 2011)
Gross: $128,392 (USA) (22 April 2011)

4 Comments

  1. Whenever I see a negative review of "I Saw the Devil", the critic always mentions (scornfully) that the movie is ultra violent and portrays women in horrifying circumstances. Yes it is, and yes it does.

    But this isn't a Hollywood slasher flick. The kills in this movie are not gratifying and aren't meant to be. The women being killed are not scantily clad models running through forests from men wearing masks. There is nothing pleasant or "cool" about these scenes; they make the viewer uncomfortable, they unsettle, they bring one's mind into very dark places. It gives us a peek into the madness that every man is capable of, and does so realistically and without pulling its punches. This brutal realism makes people uncomfortable, and prompts negative reviews. This is understandable, but unfortunate. I believe that a movie should be judged on more than the amount of blood the viewer is comfortable seeing on-screen. To these people, please, do not watch Korean revenge thrillers if you are uncomfortable with torture or blood.

    But enough of that rambling. This movie is excellent. Beautiful cinematography contrasts the stark, dimly lit scenes where the murders, or gritty fight scenes, occur. The camera work is simple but effective; the viewer is often treated to close-ups of both Byung-hun Lee and Mik-sik Choi, and their facial expressions tell us more than dialogue ever could. There is also contrast between Lee and Choi. Lee, clean and stoic, and Choi, filthy and madly expressive. They compliment each other very well, and play off of each others strengths effectively.

    The story itself is typical of revenge films, but fantastic in its execution. Lee's character experiences a profound loss at the hands of Choi's character, and in the process of seeking revenge begins to resemble the man he so hates. The line between "victim" and "aggressor" becomes blurred between both characters. This is where the film shines. There is no black and white in "I Saw the Devil"; the viewer is left with shades of grey.

    As for the acting, it was all done very well. As I mentioned, Lee and Choi work well together, and all supporting cast members did an excellent job. Choi portrays his character in an incredibly convincing manner, shifting suddenly from calmness to manic anger, but never in a way that feels unnatural or forced. Lee's character is quiet and much less expressive, but he does very well in showing immense amounts of emotion through just his eyes or subtle movements of his body. A memorable performance from them both.

    As for flaws, the only thing I can think of is the strange, perhaps unrealistic behaviour of the police. Lee is a member of the NIS, and is very skilled when it comes to remaining hidden, but that shouldn't make him untouchable when directly provoking police officers or driving on the wrong side of the street. Still, though, it's a very trivial complaint that isn't worth a deducted point.

    A confident 10/10 from me. If you are comfortable seeing serial murder portrayed realistically, and are able to appreciate more than just gore, please, do yourself a favour and watch this film.

  2. Just came back from the TIFF 10 screening of the UNCUT version of this film, and after reading the very first review posted here, I feel somewhat compelled to leave a short comment.

    the movie is about revenge. a woman is murdered by a serial killer, the woman's soon-to-be husband, who happens be a highly trained special agent, takes revenge on the serial killer in some of the most gruesome ways ever presented on film.

    The "TAKEN"-esque plot is fairly straight forward and even predictable at times, for some people, this unfortunately exposes the violence and turns it into a dominating theme, hence remarks of it being mindless and unnecessary are brought up.

    But fans of this genre can easily see past the violence, and be drawn back to the noir nature of the film with each passing violence "segement", in the end, you can feel the main character's will for revenge, and that simply transcends the violence, and ultimately turns the film into an imaginative commentary on the human condition.

    the film would also remind you of classic Fincher films, namely se7en, however, the theatrical construction of plot is a signature Ji Woon Kim style, the mise-en-scene, the soundtrack, you see it in every single film of his, especially bittersweet life.

    after watching this film I found myself immediately comparing it to another masterpiece sympathy for mr.vengeance, so for those of you who have seen chan wook park's revenge trilogy and loved it, you should find time to see this film.

  3. This movie is not for the squeamish, or the faint of heart. Censors claimed it was offensive to human dignity. These were the kinds of things they told the audience at the world premiere screening of the Uncut Version of I Saw the Devil at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. I had heard the movie was pretty graphic, but I never expected that it would push any boundaries. I turned out to be only half right.

    After finding out his fiancée has been brutally murdered, secret agent Dae-hoon (Byung-hun Lee) is at a loss. With the help of his father-in-law, he sets out on a revenge plot to find the man who did it. He quickly finds the culprit, Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). He beats him pretty badly, but instead of killing him, he leaves him alive. He wants to stalk his prey, and exact his revenge slowly and increasingly more painfully.

    Going in with very few ideas of what I was about to see, I was startled and thrilled at the tenacious audacity on display from the opening scene all the way until the final frames. The film is a gritty, merciless experience that could never be truly recreated in North America. This is the kind of hard-boiled revenge thriller you could only find in Korea. And to hear that even the censors there could not handle Kim Ji-woon's complete vision makes the film all the more uncompromising and astounding. It has taken me well over a week to try and come up with the words to describe and review the film, but never once have I forgotten anything I saw. It is quite simply, unforgettable.

    I was right in assuming the film would not push the boundaries of what can be shown in regards to graphic violence and gore. But it comes really close. It makes Park Chan-Wook's entire Vengeance Trilogy look about as violent as the Toy Story Trilogy. Blood sprays, flies, drips, gushes – every verb or way blood can possibly flow out of the human body occurs over the course of the film. It relishes in it no matter if the shot is raw, unflinching and real, or hyper stylized and completely over-the-top. One sequence involving a brutal double murder as the camera swoops around the scene in a circle is simply magnificent to watch, both to see how much blood is spilt and for how wicked and incredible a shot it is.

    The revenge tale at the core of I Saw the Devil is not all too original, but it is the story and idea around it that is. Very rarely do we see a film with two characters that start off completely different, but very slowly become all in the same. Dae-hoon and Kyung-chul are both very stubborn individuals, who will not back down from each other. They just keep at each other, and even as Kyung-chul is continually beaten, abused and victimized, he never once lets up. I keep coming back to a comparison with Batman and The Joker in The Dark Knight, and how those two menaces push each other to their physical limits, and that is exactly what happens in this film. While it was easy to pick sides in Dark Knight, Ji-woon makes it increasingly difficult for the audience to figure out who they should sympathize with here. It is a haunting and blatantly moral-defying story, and its raw and emotional undertones are more than difficult to swallow.

    But the key problem I found with the film is Ji-woon's lack of ability to know when to cut. There are easily twenty minutes that could be chopped right out of the film, and none of its edge would be lost in the process. I was glued to the screen for the majority of the film, but found myself checking my watch more than once because I was totally baffled as to why it runs over 140 minutes. There is only so much revenge one can take and comprehend, and having the film run so long makes it all too easy to call out as being self-indulgent. I respect the film, and I respect Ji-woon as a filmmaker (I wanted to seek out the rest of his film catalogue immediately after the lights came up), but it just makes such an incredible movie feel a bit sloppy and weakened as a cohesive package.

    Another inconsistent element is Lee's Dan-hoon. We never learn much about him outside of his being a secret agent and wanting to inflict as much pain as he can through his revenge scheme. So how are we to assume he was not a sick and twisted individual in the first place? How are we to know this is not his first time inflicting such a painful revenge? He rarely speaks, and his cold, calculating eyes never once give us a hint of any further development. It is a great performance by Lee, but it is one that feels very underdeveloped – outside of some rather obvious sequences.

    But then, anyone would look underdeveloped when standing next to Choi. The man gives a performance that is the stuff of legend. He was incredible as the lead in Oldboy as the man who was wronged, and is even better as the wrongdoer here. He brings out the monster in Kyung-chul all too easily, and his riveting performance is unmissable. The transformation into this disgusting, psychopathic creature is nothing short of amazing. He chews up scenery at every turn, and is magnetic on screen. Nothing even comes close to equaling the power, intensity and dare I say authenticity he puts into this character. He is the stuff of nightmares.

    I Saw the Devil is a great revenge thriller, but is far from perfect. Choi's electric performance alone should become required viewing for anyone with any interest in film.

    8/10.

    (An edited version of this review also appeared on http://www.geekspeakmagazine.com).

  4. Are most revenge stories totally complete? Is Hammurabi's Code not good enough? An eye for an eye, a life for a life? 'I Saw the Devil' doesn't think so, and I have to agree.

    With top Korean names as Ji-Woon Kim (A Bittersweet Life, Tale of Two Sisters), Byung-hun Lee (A Bittersweet Life) and the always amazing Min-Sik Choi (everything), this film had some lofty expectations, and I can easily say that whatever expectations I had, they were smashed, bashed, and slashed into smithereens and finally, thrown out the window.

    Wronged by the blood-thirsty psycho Choi, Agent Byhung takes vengeance into his own hands in unrelenting fashion. And boy howdy, we got some serious, flesh-ripping and bone-shattering revenge here. Mix in great direction, cinematography, choreography, music, and, of course, dynamite acting, you've got one fantastic flick.

    Not long into the film, I began to wonder if Min-Sik Choi was delivering one of the all-time anti-hero performances, and for a minute or two, I was definitely thinking that this was the case. However, those anti-hero thoughts were quickly dashed away – he's straight up evil. Always the reliable actor, Min-Sik may have out-done himself; he successfully transformed into one of cinema's most memorable serial killer/villains.

    Beyond wishing for a stronger emotional impact, this film is just perfect stuff in my eyes. Serial killer movies are being made brilliantly by our beloved brothers from South Korea, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart with big hugs and kisses.

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