Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Saw the Devil and He’s A Gruesome Sight

I Saw the Devil

In Korea revenge is a dish best served bloody. If the mention of film titles such as Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, or Lady Vengeance evoke a smile across your face than I Saw the Devil should be right up your alley. If you have not seen any of the aforementioned Korean revenge flicks then you are in for a real treat.

Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a school bus driver by day and serial killer by night. Unbeknownst to Kyung-chul, his latest victim was not only the daughter of a police chief but also the fiancé of a top secret agent on the force, Joo-yeon (Lee Byung-hun). Determined to avenge his loss, Joo-yeon sets out to give Kyung-chul a taste of the same hellish nightmare he inflicts on his victims. Before long the hunter becomes the prey and the lines between good and evil become increasingly blurred.

I Saw the Devil may not bring anything new to the revenge genre but it is still provides a great adrenaline rush. By exploring the nature of revenge, director Kim Ji-Woon is able to continually up the stakes for the main characters of his film. In order to catch a gruesome killer, Joo-yeon must essentially become a monster himself. Through this Ji-Woon questions whether there can truly be a winner in the game of revenge. Once Joo-yeon crosses that fine line he is no longer any different than Kyung- chul.

Kim Ji-Woon successfully gets this point across through the terrific work of his two leading men. Choi Min-sik continues his string of blistering performances as Kyung-chul. Min-sik brings so much life to the character that he manages to be both menacing and entertaining at the same time. Lee Byung-hun nicely offsets Min-siks work with his cool and calculated approach to Joo-yeon. He assumes that he is the one in control, but is in over his head deeper than he can even imagine. This is especially evident in the scene where Joo-yeon must battle both Kyung-chul and two other deranged individuals in an unfamiliar house.


I Saw the Devil also offers an interesting commentary on how different cultures view violence in cinema. TIFF screened the version of I Saw the Devil that was originally banned in Korea. The film was edited for its Korean release. The odd thing is that the cuts that were made for the Korean release are miniscule compared to what was left in the film. Apparently the idea of someone eating a meal made out of human remains is more disturbing than a knife through the jaw. Regardless of which version of the film you see. I Saw the Devil features plenty of edge of your seat thrills and gruesome chills to satisfy. 

4 comments:

  1. Yeah...I'm pretty sure this is the most violent film I've ever seen. Absolutely awesome...but violent as all get out.

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  2. @Hatter - Not the most violent thing I have seen, but definitely one of the best uses of excessive violence.

    Oddly enough I found Balada Triste to be more distrubing, violence wise, than this one.

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  3. Lee Byung-hun rocks. I can't wait for this to come out.

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  4. @Edgar - If Thirst got released in theatres then I can only assume this will show up at some point in 2011.

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