18 – 141mins – Crime/Drama/Horror – 29th April 2011
A foreign movie from the country of South Korea, I Saw The Devil keeps in tune with many of the films to successfully make it out of Korea with it’s dark and gory plot based around revenge.
It follows Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) who is a highly trained agent. One night while stranded on the side of the road after her car breaks down, Kim’s pregnant fiancée is attacked and brutally murdered by Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). This isn’t the first time he’s murdered and it’s sure not to be the last. What he doesn’t reckon on though is Kim hunting him down for retribution.
Both killer and fiancé are continuously interlocked in a game of wits and ever more sadistic acts on both each other and bystanders as they slowly converge towards the end of the movie. As Kim is dragged ever downwards into the world of violence, he treads a fine line with turning into the monster that he is hunting and it is fair to say that many of the scenes in this film will have you feeling slightly uncomfortable if you’re not well prepared.
Choi impresses as the masochistic killer who is a complete opposite from Lee’s calm and collected demeanour. Both actors bring breathe life into their characters that only seem to become more complex as the film unfolds. Having started out as two opposites, they slowly merge into one and it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish who should get the viewers support.
I wasn’t exactly sure where this movie was going to go especially after an hour when it could quite plausibly have finished with a few tweaks but continue on it did and I am all the more happy because of it. There is plenty of action and fight scenes split in between the character development and where normal revenge films seem to keep both protagonists apart until the end, Jee-woon Kim (the director) was on a mission to bring them together into every scene. The music perfectly suits the mood and is only trumped by the cinematography which was exemplary.
As mentioned, this is not one for the faint hearted or squeamish but the performances are fantastic and it really gives an insight into the minds of a serial killer and a man so stricken with grief that he can only comprehend vengeance. This ranks up there with my other favourite Korean movie Oldboy and although I Saw The Devil’s plot may be based on a tried and tested idea, its execution is very refreshing and keeps you guessing right until the very end.