41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
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...
55 of 69 people found the following review helpful
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.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2013
Not to self: Don't ever piss off a Korean. Jeez, these guys must be born with special revenge genetics. I cant say this movie scared me but it made me squirm. Very uncomfortable to watch but necessary indeed. The French are dominating the horror genre but this is revenge torture at its finest. Don't read anything about the storyline if u can help it. Go Korea! Now, just keep it over there.Lots of gore, but not just for the shocking effect. It all has a reason & a purpose. Get some popcorn & enjoy!
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2011
I knew this was gonna be a good movie but I didn't think it was gonna be this good! "I Saw The Devil" is an awesome serial killer, cat an mouse revenge flick where the good turn evil in order to inflict pain and suffering on a greater evil.
The story goes like this, one snowy night a woman who is married to a detective catches a flat tire and calls for a tow, a stranger appears to help but ends up beating her, kidnaps, dismembers and disposes of her remains in a river. The remains are found and the hunt for the killer begins as the police narrow it down to four suspects.
The detective takes time off due to his wifes death but secretly tracks down the four suspects and tortures each one till he finds the one who killed his wife. Once found he exacts revenge over an over in a very cool way I might add at which time a game of cat an mouse occurs that leaves a trail of dead bodies and a once lawful detective no better than the truely psycho killer he's been stalking.
"I Saw The Devil" is a brutal/gory but not to gory film that will lead you down a road with a psychopath and a man who becomes one out of grief and anger in order to get revenge! As far as acting, it was great as was the score which fit the movie perfectly. Every year there is one or two horror movies that really standout, "I Saw The Devil" is 2011's standout horror masterpiece that deserves to be seen!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Chances are that if you're interested in I Saw the Devil, you've probably seen at least one of the Vengeance Trilogy movies. If you have, then there isn't a whole lot new in this movie that you haven't seen before, but I don't mean that in a bad way. I Saw the Devil seems to borrow some of the best elements from each movie to the point where they could practically release another box set, a quadrilogy, including this film with the others, despite having a different director. It's funny that, like Oldboy, before I saw this movie, all I'd heard was that it was extremely 'brutal' and 'unforgiving'. I don't know if it's just being desensitized from the Vengeance Trilogy or what, but I Saw the Devil didn't win me over as much as Oldboy or Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance did. As much as I hate to compare movies to one another, it's hard not to in this case. But the thing is, if you like revenge movies, or are a big fan of the Vengeance Trilogy, there's a good chance that you'll like I Saw the Devil as well.
Soo-hyun is a secret agent spending the night at work while his fiancé, Ju-yeon, gets stuck on the side of the road after getting a flat tire. A tow truck is on the way, but before it arrives, a stranger pulls over and offers to help her out. She politely turns him down, and within minutes he smashes her windows and drags her off to a dank torture room of sorts, and kills her off quickly. Ju-yeon's head is found in a stream soon after, and both her father, a retired police chief, and Soo-hyun see what's happened. Upon seeing this, Soo-hyun vows to find the person who killed her, and make them suffer just as much as she did. Within days, he tracks the guy down- it's a school van driver named Kyung-chul. Soo-hyun nearly beats him to death, but leaves before the final blow. Why does he let the maniac live? Because he's just getting started.
It's going to sound weird, but even with the guy being the lowest of low, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him when Soo-hyun would pay him a visit. Soo-hyun really does a number on Kyung-chul the first time, but it gets worse each and every time, to the point where it seems like a demented version of hide and seek. The violence isn't over the top, since each bit of it is there for a reason, and what's seen looks like it's genuinely happening to the actors. Knowing that Kyung-chul was about to get obliterated every couple of minutes got to the point where it was comical because you knew that he was going to be let go each time. And part of the fun is in seeing how the guy makes it to his next destination. Other killers and innocent people going about their daily lives in broad daylight aren't safe from Kyung-chul. I really did feel bad for Soo-hyun and Ju-yeon's father when she was killed and they pulled out her head. The reactions on their faces looked sincere, as did the lack of emotion on Kyung-chul's face whenever he got his hands on a victim. Whether it's intentional or not, I still couldn't help but feel like a few things were taken from the Vengeance Trilogy and altered a bit. Achilles tendon scene like Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance? Check! Fancy black coat like Lady Vengeance's? Check! There were other parts, and again, I'm not saying that this is bad or makes the movie score lower or anything, but the connections are there for someone who's seen those movies. Actually, there's not much about the movie that I don't like, aside from the slightly long runtime. The main character can seem bland, but when it's over and done, it comes together. I Saw the Devil has thrills, comedy, just the right amount of gore, and a somewhat painful ending. It's a solid movie.
The blu-ray has great picture quality for the most part, aside from a few scenes shot at night with lots of black where grain shows up now and then. The movie isn't shot in any gorgeous areas by any means, but the cities and country look good here. The audio is very good too, with a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 dub if you want to go that way. Unfortunately, there aren't many special features: there are a handful of deleted scenes, a short behind the scenes featurette and trailers for other Magnolia movies. Ouch.
This movie does many things right thanks to good writing, directing, acting and cinematography. They have a merciless killer and make him interesting without going too deep like other movies I've seen in recent years, and put him in an interesting cat-and-mouse situation. But I still can't shake off the feeling of 'been there, done that', which is something I wish I could look past. Still, anyone who enjoys a good revenge movie will most likely love I Saw the Devil, but the lack of extras on the blu-ray hurts the score a bit when there's so much more they could've thrown on. Even if it weren't for that, I give the movie itself 4/5 stars. I wanted to say a lot more about the movie, but so much goes on with torture scenes and story bits involving the two main characters that I don't want to give away too much. Give this one a rental at the very least.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This is the second film I have purchased by Director Kim Ji-Woon, the first being "The Good The Bad and The Weird." Where that film had a lot of action and playful humor, "I Saw the Devil" is very serious and extremely violent. Both films are expertly made with fine acting and superior cinematography. Even with all of the gory violence, "I Saw the Devil" has a very interesting take on vengeance. It is a film with something interesting to say, but only to Adult Audiences. Even for audiences that are accustomed to violent movies, this film will make you cringe in places. The plot is unpredictable, whereas you are sure it is going in one direction, and then it twists around on itself. It is a very tense thriller. If you are a fan of these types of films, you will not be disappointed. The disc itself has both DTS HD-MA 5.1 Soundtracks in English and Korean.(with English subtitles) I recommend the Korean track. The Blu-Ray picture quality is spectacular.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Ji-Woon Kim is one of my favorite Asian directors. The movie runs well over two hours and I was left wanting more. You do need a thick stomach for this but if you love the gory revenge movies that Asian Cinema seems to have perfected you will love this one.
Acting, cinematography, script, all top notch. I even dare say, better than most American movies out this year.