Hey folks, Valkor here. And I really need to up my international film intake. Specifically speaking, films that are from Asia, because it's rare that I'll find one that truly sucks. This latest film comes from Korea and the last film I reviewed from there was Oldboy, which coincidentally, the psycho in this film was actually the star. Prepare to shit some serious bricks, I give you "I Saw the Devil" directed by Jee-woon Kim. *Spoilers ahead*
In I saw the Devil, Secret Agent Kim Soo-Heon's (Byung-hun Lee, Ninja Assassin) wife is murdered by a serial killer. So he sets out to find the guy. And after ripping through a couple of suspects, he ultimately finds Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi, Oldboy). When he discovers that Kyung is the murder, he finds him, kicks the living shit out of him, and lets him live leaving on top of his battered body a bunch of money. Essentially Kim is playing a game of catch and release where he'll find him again, kick the shit out of him, and let him go. Wash, rinse, repeat.
To ensure propping tracking Kim placed a homing device on Kyung, so he can follow him wherever he goes. And every time Kim catches up to Kyung, he's in the middle of some shit and Kim kicks the shit out of him, letting him live, but leaving him more and more battered than the last encounter (and it gets more and more excrutiating with each encounter). But Kyung finally catches on to what Kim is doing and decides to take his revenge – out on Kim's family. But revenge begets revenge when Kim catches Kyung for their final encounter. And this time he'll make sure his pain is felt… even in the afterlife.
I Saw the Devil is definitely not for the squeamish; the gore starts right from the beginning and the blood doesn't stop flowing until the bitter end. The rest belongs in the TOV breakdown.
I Saw the Devil is a revenge thriller that will blow you away; definitely not as great as Oldboy (no twist ending), but an awesome piece of cinema that shouldn't be missed. The story is rock solid and straight-forward with no twists in the tale. It might be a bit predictable in some aspects, but nothing that detracts. Plus the level of suspense is pretty intense –I'm talkin edge of your seat, nail biting material. The acting is what sells the picture and Min-Sik Choi is by far the greatest Korean actor that's ever lived. In Oldboy he plays the hero, but in I Saw the Devil, he's twisted, deranged, psychopathic and anything else that follows. When he's on screen, the dude tears it up! You're gonna love to hate him. Not to say that Byung didn't hold his own - I thought his performance was rock solid. Buy Min just blew me away. Finally, the shit that Kim puts Kyung through is almost unbearable to watch. I won't describe any of it (minus the one below, but that doesn't have anything to do with these two), you'll simply have to see it.
The film is a bit too long and for pacing purposes, minutes could have been chopped off. Fortunately there aren't too many slow patches in this 140 minute masterpiece. Think of it as taking a moment to catch your breath.
Watching one dude get his balls smashed… holy shit!
I Saw the Devil is available now and you can probably find it at most import shops (I also saw it on Amazon). I'd definitely seek this one out, especially if you're a fan of Oldboy, you're gonna absolutely love Min-sik's performance in this one; not only that but the film doesn't pull too many punches. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give I saw the Devil 4.5 and it's been Valkor viewed, TOV Approved.