I SAW THE DEVIL takes the serial-killer tale and turns it upside-down (and inside out!). I was expecting another "sociopath vs. the police / cat and mouse" story. ISTD uses this premise, only to expand on it, resulting in one of the best revenge films I've ever seen. I actually found myself feeling (somewhat, almost, well, ok, not very) sorry for the murderer! This movie goes a long way in showing the ultimate price of vengeance. If you love movies like LADY VENGEANCE, OLDBOY, etc., then I SAW THE DEVIL will fit right into your collection...
on May 23, 2013
I rented this movie from Netflix, largely due to the four-star rating, but fully expected it to be a complete joke. Let's face it, any movie that is about 2 1/2 hours long, in a foreign language with subtitles, and has a lead character who is a "secret agent" just HAS to be awful. Well, it wasn't. In fact I found it to be one of the most astounding, shocking, suspenseful, disturbing, and entertaining movies I have seen in a long, long time.
Other people have delved into the plot and characters, so I won't bother, but I will say that for every second it was on the screen, I was on the edge of my seat, shaking my head in amazement, looking away in horror, and re-running the portions that defied belief the first time I saw them. This is an absolute classic of horror, psychopathic behavior, criminal psychology, and plot development. I honestly can't compare it to anything I have ever seen before, and I strongly recommend this movie to mature adults who think they have seen it all. Trust me, you haven't.....yet.
Director Jee-woon Kim along with actors Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi are three of the most talented people in Korean cinema today. Jee-woon has done such films as A Bittersweet Life and The Good, the Bad, the Weird, which both starred Byung-hun and Min-sik is most recognized for his performance in Oldboy, but was also fairly impressive in the drama Crying Fist among many others. Oldboy is really the film that made me love Korean cinema. So when word broke that these three marvelous people were getting together to make a film, I knew I was already there. A little thriller called I Saw the Devil came together and became one of the most spectacularly intense thrillers to be released in quite some time.
Late one snowy, winter night, a woman named Joo-yeon (San-ha Oh) sits stranded in her car waiting for a tow truck to arrive and help her fix a flat tire. She talks to her fiance, Dae-hoon (Byung-hun), over the phone as she waits. It's Joo-yeon's birthday and Dae-hoon, a secret agent, gets caught up with work and can't be there with her on her special day. A strange man shows up and begins to pester Joo-yeon about fixing the tire himself. After declining his help, the man known as Kyung-chul (Min-sik) attacks Joo-yeon before brutally murdering her. Kyung-chul is actually a notorious serial killer who mostly kills women and young girls. As the investigation unfolds, Dae-hoon swears merciless revenge on Kyung-chul and a deadly game of cat and mouse begins. Does Dae-hoon really know when this game will end or has he already become a bigger monster than the man he now preys upon?
The chemistry between Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi is what really drives the film. Byung-Hun is the broken down shell of a man when he's not in the hunt, so to speak. He has several emotional breakdowns that are incredibly heart wrenching, but the urge he has to make this bloodthirsty maniac pay for taking the love of his life away takes a front seat to any sort of emotion he once had. Byung-hun portrays the struggle his character has between sadness and revenge flawlessly. Min-sik plays the role of a lunatic incredibly well. His character seems to lack that which makes a person who they are; morals, a conscience, and above all a soul. Killing is the only thing that brings out the real Kyung-Chul. His first initial reaction to someone trying to beat him at his own game is agitation and borderline out of control rage, but once he regains control he not only enjoys himself but claims it's the most fun he's ever had. Min-sik acts level headed when his kills go well, but the way he expresses how insane his character really is when things go bad for him is what makes his performance so memorable. While the scenes where Byung-hun and Min-sik fight with each other are great for obvious reasons, there's a scene at the end of the film where they both have a heart to heart conversation that is just spectacular. Every little glimpse you have of that confrontation leading up to that point is fantastic, as well.
Jee-woon Kim certainly knows how to shoot a beautiful looking film. Lush and vibrant colors make grisly murders and spontaneous revenge tactics look much more pleasant than the blood that endlessly splatters all over every wall and floor in the film. Other than the brilliant colors, the cinematography is rather unique as well. There's a scene near the end of the film where Dae-Hoon is walking toward the camera on a deserted road. It's simple and shot like we're basically walking backwards in front of him while staring directly at his face. He eventually begins to cry; an uncontrollable sobbing. The way the scene is shot along with Byung-hun's performance made it one of the more memorable scenes in the film. There's another where Kyung-Chul gets picked up by a taxi. He gets into the front passenger seat while there's another man in the back, so there are three people in the car altogether including the driver. Kyung-Chul realizes he's going to have to beat these guys to the punch, so as their adrenaline escalates the camera rotates around the inside of the car. You get this continuous 360 degree shot of the action occurring inside this cab. It's amazing.
Leave it to another Korean thriller revolving around revenge to make an impression on me. Jee-woon Kim's I Saw the Devil is a superbly acted, exceptionally written, grotesquely gorgeous film that'll make you cringe during some of the more horrific and blood soaked acts in the film while secretly leave you craving so much more. That craving is satisfied thanks to the interactions and chemistry between actors Byung-hun Lee and Min-Sik Choi. The disturbing content in the film is more than enough to satisfy the hungriest gore hounds out there while the captivating story will please anyone looking for something more than someone being chopped to pieces. I Saw the Devil is one of the most morbidly delightful films to be released in recent years.
on April 6, 2013
I remember seeing an alternate cover for this movie and thought that it really evoked that feeling of fear that one obtains when they see something "chilling".
Regardless, I bought the film itself off of Amazon.com and decided to check it out for myself. Another reason why I bought and checked it out was because IMDB.com's reviews of this film were spectacular.
Anyway, I watched the film (the uncut edition) and I was completely blown away, from the beginning of the film to the ambiguous ending (if you see the film all the way through then you will know what I am talking about). The storyline for the film was definitely something that caught my attention and, being a lover of films, I just had to buy it and check it out to really experience the same feelings that everyone else had felt while they watched this dark and brutal revenge tale.
In conclusion, "I Saw The Devil" is a film that will draw you in, grab onto you, and never let go. It's a deep horror thriller that digs into the elements of loss and, most certainly, it will show you what happens to a man who loses something that means the most to him and how that journey will shape him for the rest of his life.
So check this film out, people! It's just that great.
on October 1, 2013
Hollywood has gotten so very trite and boring to me, the movies the plot liness the characters are so predictable and tiresome. Fast and Furious 28 is in production and Don Jon is grossing money at the box office. I have run out of movies to watch and just refuse to watch some of the mindless cookie-cutter junk produced today in the US.
Taking a trip outside this country for cinema is something I have done recently with British Films and so this movie popped up while I was searching for a scary sort of horror. It is not that, it's a revenge and consequences of revenge film. It was superbly done, the 2 main actors gave fantastic performances and the directing and cinematogrophy was great. I've never entertained a Korean film before and really really enjoyed this thoroughly.
One warning it is fairly gruesome, minus the fairly, so if that's not your bag pass on it. However that is the only reason you should, otherwise dive in and enjoy this flick.
on October 20, 2013
It's hard to write reviews about the movie itself when you have IMDb and a dozen other film review websites.
This is film is a hybrid of action, horror and drama. There are amazing fight sequences for the action fan. The bodily harm in those scenes coupled with a couple torture scenes will grab any horror fans attention (especially my favorite scene in a car) and enough drama to keep you on the edge of your seat between the scenes of violence.
The DVD comes with a making-of feature which I love. For me a movie isn't worth buying without special features, because I can see all there is on Netflix or Amazon Prime (but of course!). I wish there were commentary, but unfortunately there is none.
Still a very worthwhile film for any fan of Korean cinema, and those into action/horror. It's also beautifully shot, beautifully acted and beautifully scored. But it's an involved film with a longer running time than most horror films. Still - it's excellent and worth you time!
on December 15, 2014
"I Saw the Devil" is, in my opinion, one of the best films to come from Korea. Perfect balance in all fields create an emotionally charged mise en scene. For example, both leads (Lee Byung-hoon and Choi Min-sik) play their own versions of psychotic in different, masterful ways. These opposite, yet equally convincing interpretations of insanity, one being an obsessive psychotic and the other being an apathetic psychotic, actually interact intensely. Who is the "I" in the movie's title? It could be either of the leads.
As for the writing, the film reworks a typical revenge premise and turns it on its head. Sometimes a person who is angry is more dangerous than a person who is inherently violent. Sometimes the villain is the one being pursued and terrorized. This adds originality to a typical premise, making the film unique. With themes of futility, apathy, and revenge, this movie will give a thinking an observant viewer plenty to reflect on. Highly recommended for anyone with a strong enough stomach and analytic mind.
on June 27, 2016
If you appreciate the horror genre, this is a must see film. If you have a morbid fascination / affection for serial killer movies, BUY this film because you will want to watch it again. All I can say is, holy %$^&%#$#@!!! I've been enamored with the Korean horror film scene for a few years now, with special attention to anything with Ji-woon Kim,. This is better than Old Boy, and that's saying something.
on May 10, 2011
I Saw The Devil was Beautifully shot and scored.Gory yet not gratuitously so,every scene was essential to the film.I am in love with this movie.
Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi are amazing in their roles.
I don't want to say too much because before I watched it I read a long drawn out analytic review and it hindered my viewing a bit.
Bottom line, 'I saw The Devil' is a cleverly written,heart pounding yet heart tugging revenge thriller that takes everything a step further as the two men involved try and one up each other.The climax is one you soon will not forget,Brilliant in every way possible.I just bought the Blu Ray and it's even more gorgeous in HD,the behind the scenes look or the making of was pretty well done in the extras and there were also deleted scenes.
on August 3, 2014
I wish the treatment of US serial rapist & killers got this type of treatment. One of the better parts was when the hero smashed a serial rapist/killer's penis & testicles multiple times and left him alive to suffer. I kept hoping the hero would do it at the end to the man who had brutally butchered his fiancé. If you like retribution, this movie has it in spades. Not for the faint of heart or children. You say blood, torture, cannibalism & beheading bothers you, don't watch this movie.