My cinematic choices are at times embarrassingly mainstream but that doesn’t mean my dvd collection is anything to be (overly) ashamed of.
I have met some very good friends through blogging and when one of them takes the time to recommend a film I will seek it out.
I Saw The Devil is one of those films.
PLOT: After his wife is brutally murdered Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) hunts down and toys with Kyung-chul (Min-Sik Choi) her killer. In order to make Kyung-chul feel true fear Kim Soo-hyeon has to take their game of cat and mouse to a very dark place. END PLOT
The revenge aspect of I Saw The Devil isn’t complex but Soo-hyeon’s transformation into the monster he is hunting is fascinating to watch.
The story may be about Soo-hyeon’s desire for revenge but we watch it unfold from Kyung-chul’s point of view point. This helped to pad out the thin plot as we spent quite a lot of time watching Kyung-chul pick up his latest victim and torture her before Soo-hyeon arrived.
Soo-hyeon is classed as the good guy but his actions were not heroic as his main goal was to fuck with Kyung-chul rather than to save a damsel in distress. The plot may have been basic but the strong characters more than made up for it.
I Saw The Devil is a violent film and is probably one of the most violent I have ever watched. The violence is brutal but what makes it acceptable is that it realistic and unsettlingly plausible. It is also beautifully shot which I was not expecting – the scenes at night, especially the opening segment in the snow, looked gorgeous.
Despite the violence and carnage there wasn’t any real tension on screen until the final act when the battle between Soo-hyeon and Kyung-chul became more psychological. The way in which Soo-hyeon finally broke Kyung-chul was horrifically dark and although I had suspicions about who would be involved I didn’t believe Soo-hyeon would go that far until I watched it unfold.
Byung-hun Lee was excellent as Kim Soo-hyeon. Lee doesn’t have many lines but he didn’t need them to convey his characters inner conflict. His performance was very understated when compared with Min-Sik Choi.
Whether Choi was being pure evil or mopping away blood with the enthusiasm of an underpaid janitor I couldn’t take my eyes of him. I know Choi has a lot of cult credibility for Oldboy but he was absolutely phenomenal, if not better, in I Saw The Devil.
At over two hours I Saw The Devil is a long film. I thought a dramatic shootout was the finale but it was actually the end of the 2nd act and the film went on for another good forty-five minutes. It was long but I was so engrossed I didn’t feel the time go by.
The film is not for the faint hearted and fresh air was required after it had ended as I knew it would linger but I would be lying if I said anything less than I loved it. I Saw The Devil gets 9/10 and it will be watched again at some stage just to fully take everything in.
Thank you Maynard Morrissey