41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2011
The story is this. Dae-hoon (played superbly by Byung-hun Lee) is a secret agent whose fiance is brutally murdered and he sets out to find the killer himself. He does so fairly easily. Only instead of killing him, he beats him half to death before making the semi concious killer swallow a tracking device. He then stalks him and exacts his revenge slowly and increasingly more violently. This is about as far from a hollywood slasherfest as you can get. There are no bikini clad girls running about doing stupid things waiting to be killed. This has the type of brutal realism that will make you feel uncomfortable, the type you would expect from a Korean revenge thriller.
What starts out as two totally opposite characters soon blurs the line somewhat as Dae-hoon's actions often lead others into harm as a result of his quest for revenge. His mind has clearly gone a bit due to the pain he is going through and in some scenes you can see how emotionally broke down he has become..However theres no mistaking who the devil is. Min-sik Choi (the lead and star of OldBoy) was brilliant in OldBoy but here he's even better. I dont know if there has ever been a more convincing portrayal of a truly evil, twisted, disgusting, psychopathic rapist killer. Often his facial expressions say more than words ever could. You will probably enjoy every moment of his suffering at the hands of Dae-hoon... The Vengeance Trilogy is tame in comparison.
The acting in particular of the two leads is astounding. The story is great with a few excellent plot twists just when you think one of the characters has the upper hand. There are some amazing scenes, one of the best is a double death that I wont spoil but you will know it when you see it. It's brilliantly done. There are plenty of other stand out moments. Everything is brutal and very realistic, you wont find any over the top kung fu stuff in this and you wont find any of the complexities of the likes of OldBoy either. This is no mystery, it's a very simple straightforward revenge thriller but masterfully done. The ending isn't that original but it is memorable like most of the film, especially the conversation right before the end.
Although banned in Korea on release for "severely damaging the dignity of human values" (and you can see why it would), it's not the most gory or violent film from that region or from the West, far from it, but it is pretty graphic so be warned! There is alot of blood, head bashing with blunt objects, stabbing, and scenes of rape/attempted rape among other things (including a very hard to watch scene with a foot and a knife).
This isnt as intelligent or suspenceful as other korean revenge thrillers and the characters are pretty shallow and one dimensional. I would have liked to have seen a bit of background story on why the killer became who he was. The plot is very far fetched as well but hey it's a film. Just capturing the guy and torturing him wouldn't make much of a film..this does. It also would have been good to see more of Dae-hoons fiances sister just because shes so pretty! Nontheless this is a great film and if you are a fan of korean revenge thrillers or good films in general it's a must. 4/5
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2013
The soundtrack starts out like this is a cheap Italian movie. It gets better.
The movie starts out with a woman stranded on a highway in the snow. She has a wrecker coming and is talking on her cell to her husband, a secret agent who watches Liam Neeson films. He is also conducting business. At one point he excuses himself to go to the restroom so he can sing to her on the phone. The next thing you know she is bludgeoned and dragged to a location where she is stripped and chained. The man doesn't torture her, just simply kills her. We find out that not only is he a psycho, but generally socially dysfunctional.
Her husband takes a leave from work and goes and plays "Dirty Harry" on every Korean pervert until he finds the killer in the act of raping a girl. Apparently the killer disrobes, rapes and then murders his victims, although he kills men too. He stops the rape and beats up the killer, but lets him go. The killer now has a bug and tracking device on him. Our Korean Dirty Harry is able to follow him around. When the killer/rapist is in the middle of an act, our Korean Dirty Harry shows up, beats the guys up and cuts on him. He is now wearing a soccer jersey so he can claim he got his wounds playing soccer in order to get medical attention, perhaps intended as a joke.
Nudity and rape, although the rape scenes are far less graphic than our 70's films. The translation was rather smooth and kudos for some originality.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2011
I bought this film on a bit of a whim. Usually I'd try to learn more about a film before I buy it, but seeing the names associated with it I thought I'd give it a go.
I ended up really enjoying it! What starts as a pretty generic horror/torture porn cliché, quickly develops into something deeper and multi-layered. I'm not claiming that this is the first of its kind, but it certainly stood out for me as something a little more interesting than most horrors these days. Some have said that the "Revenge" theme has been overdone, and that we're now too familiar with the "to kill the monster you must become a monster yourself" ideology. Possibly true, but I'm still more than happy to go along with it for the time being.
It's pretty rough throughout and some might find the relentless horror/violence too much. There are definitely a couple of moments that had me wincing and curling up into a little ball (look out for the scene in the doctor's surgery) but on the whole I feel like the violence and sexual aggression was in keeping with the films dark themes.
I wouldn't say it's for everyone, but I liked it!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2011
Having been firmly in the Chan Wook Park camp (Oldboy, Thirst, Sympathy for Mr.Vengance) I was amazed by the brilliance of 'A Tale of Two Sisiters' during a recent, belated viewing A Tale Of Two Sisters [DVD] . Hence, since then I've been a huge fan of Jee Woon Kim and his back catalogue.
I have been really looking forward to 'I Saw The Devil' and boy, did it deliver the goods. I've found in the past that some of his work has been a little patient, in that everything takes a while to get going. Whilst 'A Tale of Two Sisters' is simply brillant, it is an example case to some extent.
On the contrary, you won't have a minute to catch your breath with 'I Saw The Devil' as it explodes into life in no uncertain terms, with a very violent and gut-wrenching murder. The pace never slackens and the running time slips by as your thrown from one gripping situation to another.
Revenge is the main theme, but there are a lot of clever 'is he doing the right thing' questions posed to the audience throughout. The acting, especially from 'Oldboy' himself and Lee Byung-Hun (A Bittersweet Life) is faultless. The tearful breakdown of the main character (Byung-Hun) in the final scene is as much a release for the character as it is for the ultra tense viewer. Again, a very provocative ending, one that is becoming a trademark of this superb director.
It's worth stating the obvious by saying that this is not 'easy' viewing; there are some pretty brutal and graphic scenes, but importantly, all are justified and all are used to heighten the sympathy/hatred for each of the respective lead characters.
'I Saw The Devil' is in some ways more sophisticated than many similar films in it's tight genre. Gratuitous it isn't, but brutal, intense and utterly brilliant it most certainly is.
A stone-wall 5 Stars.
I’ll admit it that it took me a little while to fully ‘get’ ‘I Saw the Devil.’ Perhaps I’ve been watching too many ‘classic Hollywood’ films lately and forgot that other countries do things differently.
It’s no easy ride and you’re going to need a strong stomach to watch it all the way through. A serial killer, already wanted by the South Korean authorities, abducts and murders a young pregnant woman. However, this time he’s gone one step too far, as the woman in question is related to South Korea’s top secret agent. Okay, it was about here when I wondered how much I was going to enjoy this film. But, I overlooked the sheer convenience of this plot point and simply went with it.
It doesn’t take long before our South Korean James Bond has located his man, but he doesn’t just kill him – too easy. He decides it would be much more fun to generally torment and torture him in a series of dangerous ‘cat and mouse’ games.
Again, I did wonder why the secret agent didn’t just kill the killer. Of course this would shave about 80% of the film’s runtime off its total length! But, again, I overlooked that and went with it. And, I’m glad I did. Yes, it is a horrible film and full of very nasty moments, but it is certainly atmospheric and the serial killer is certainly someone you’ll be dying to get his comeuppance. There’s even a few moments of social commentary thrown in there to show that it’s not just a mindless revenge flick.
Naturally, it has subtitles, so you’ll have to be okay with that if you’re going to watch it. But, if you’re in the mood for something dark, sadistic and violent, stick with it. It’s a bit longer than most similar films, but you may just find it’s worth it.
on 8 May 2013
A vicious, serial rape~murderer kills a woman and is hunted down by her fiance. The fiance is cross and he proves this by hurting the bad man again and again...
Really enjoyed this, it had a bloody great mean~streak a mile wide.
In essence the story is pretty much the same as Mr Mean by Roger Hargreaves, but with a bit more graphic torture. The leads play their roles very well, with the avenger playing it as cold as ice and the killer all fiery and emotive. Thought it might drag on at 2hrs20mins but thankfully it was well paced and gave the audience something new, just when things were starting to get samey.
Although the subject matter is relentlessly grim and this is not without its fair share of shocking brutality and gore, I wouldn't be put off by that, as the film is still quite thoughtful and at times quite amusing.
Definitely recommended, especially to fans of oriental horror thrillers or world cinema.
The blurb on the box likens this to 'Seven', but in my opinion, it's a mile better than that!
The print looks nice enough as you would expect from a new film but the extras are fairly dull. Interviews, making of, trailers.
The uncut Reg 1 ~ international edit ~ has some cannibal references and a couple of slightly more gory, lingering shots, but misses other footage, which is included in the uncut Reg 2 ~ Korean edit.. If you really need to check these before purchasing your preferred version the cuts are detailed on several websites.
4.5/5 rounded up.
"And do you know what he gave his brother last Christmas?"
"Two pieces of coal!"
on 15 February 2012
I remember watching "I Saw The Devil" astonished at the power of the Lead Actor's [Byung- Hun Lee] and [Min- Sik Choi], never have i been so gripped by characters and what would happen to them. The Visual's are stunning, each shot carefully chosen to show exactly what the director [Jee- Woon Kim] wanted us as the audience to see.
Most horror films these days are just so dry and predictable, filled with endless cliche's and cheap scares. This film, however, is incredibly tense in uncomfortable situations that the director is forcing us to be engrossed in. The jumps and scares come from not knowing what is going to happen next, how far is Su-Yeon Kim [Byung- Hun Lee] willing to go to exact his revenge? And what will Kyung-Chul [Min- Sik Choi] do to even the score?
I mentioned this was a horror film, but it is almost entirely separate from that genre, what makes this film great is the culmination of genres and sub-genres from black comedy, thriller, drama, crime and vengeance, Those looking for a typical American horror film which you can sit down and watch with popcorn and expect the scares, look elsewhere. If you're looking for an edge of your seat movie with twists turns and spectacular performances, this is the film for you. do not be put off by the subtitles; this is the type of film that grabs a hold of your attention, with such a grip, you forget that you've been reading subtitles for the past hour and a half when you pause for a toilet break.
I've read a few comments about the runtime of the feature [2 hours 24mins] and for most movies, yes; this could be a long time to sit down with. But unlike most, it pulls you in like the black hole it is and doesn't let go. I was so focused on the film that i all lost concept of time. Now, thats not just my biased opinion here, The films pace flows like a river, you're never let up until the end, even during the somewhat "slower" drama scenes, your mind is still thinking away at what the characters are going to do next, and you're ass aint leaving that seat till the credits roll.
If you've managed to read this far, i'll go on to talk about the violence. The violence in this movie is unlike any i've seen in the vast hollywood (or foreign) films i have seen. There are no quick cutaways of blood flying on the wall, or distant gore. This is "in-your-face" brutality. Now this is not a criticism, this is a praise at how effective the movie is a evoking emotions, this film had me cringing at the shear realism and grittiness of the violence. The effectiveness i talk about is that each scene of brutality invokes a sense of hatred to the Killer, so the audience are ready to justify Su-yeon's actions throughout the film.
This is a film i highly recommend to a movie lover, willing to sit down and experience a thrilling 2 hours+ of incredible acting, superb directing and an end that'll stay with you for hours after watching.
on 7 June 2011
I Saw the Devil is a fantastic South Korean revenge flick. It's relentlessly dark, violent, suspenseful, bloody, and brutal. Not for everyone, but an excellent ride for those who can appreciate it. The movie is basically a cat and mouse game between a police agent and a sadistic serial killer. The agent loses his wife to the killer at the beginning of the story, and wastes little time tracking him down. But instead of taking him into custody or simply killing him, the agent has a much more elaborate plan for revenge. He lets the killer go and catches him repeatedly, inflicting more and more damage each time. Unfortunately, though, collateral damage quickly spirals out of control as the killer becomes more dangerous than ever as a result of the chase.
I Saw the Devil isn't flawless. The performances are perfect (especially from Min-Sik Choi, real creepy guy who you might remember from Oldboy), and the cinematography is memorable, but the plot takes a few infuriating twists for the sake of drama that hurt the movie much more than helped. With that said, this is still probably the best serial killer horror/drama flick that I've seen. It's just relentless, and often immensely satisfying. This film in my opinion was Kim Ji Won's best film yet. As usual, the Korean director delights in playing with genre conventions and viewer expectations, with a serial killer thriller that has a great deal of evil mischief along its tense and demented way.
Kim makes the very most of his trademark ironic sense of humour, though here turning it to some pretty horrific situations, making for both the year's best black comedy and gritty detective thriller. Whilst it may not have a great deal to say about the human condition or even the darkness of the soul, it still offers a superb helter skelter ride into blood soaked craziness, which is all the more amazing for the presence of two of Korea's most acclaimed actors in Choi Min Sik and Lee Byung Hun. This Blu-ray dvd edition of the film delivers great video and superb audio. The AVC 1080p picture is just about up there with the best I've seen in the HD format with exceptionally deep contrast levels, realistic flesh tones and solid colours.
There are several key scenes which take place in the dark (or where there is very little light) and there is no drop in detail levels so you can pick out every little bit of information. I Saw the Devil is extremely well photographed by cinematographer Mogae Lee and edited by Na-young Nam (both apparently in the first film) so some sequences appear quite slick and stylish whereas others are grim and gritty. When it comes to the fight sequences, these are very well put together and edited in a quick, though not too frenetic, way to show how fast the men are moving without completely losing you so you don't know who is doing what.
When it comes to the SFX make-up (no doubt helped by bit of CGI), this is extremely convincing, whether it's the discovery of Joo-yeon's head, the results of beatings or the impromptu 'surgery' on Kyung-Chul's Achilles tendon. The disc also has some interviews with the cast, a making of documentary, teaser trailer and a t.v. spot. Overall, I Saw the Devil is an extremely well written, directed and acted film which, in the final few minutes, shows the true nature of revenge and what effects it can have on the victim and killer alike when the roles are reversed. I know that Kim Jee-woon is a fine director from his films The Good, The Bad, The Weird, A Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life and he doesn't appear to have lost his touch and I look forward to seeing his next feature. I don't know how much of the film's overall quality is down to screenwriter Hoon-jung Park, but he does an incredible job considering this is his debut film. I highly recommend this to Asian horror fans and two thumbs up!.
on 16 May 2011
'I Saw the Devil' (Korean: 'Akmareul boattda') is a Korean revenge/serial killer thriller that released in 2010 to rave reviews and box-office success. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and had a limited U.S theatrical release.
The movie centres around Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) who attempts to trace a sadistic serial killer, Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) after suffering from a personal tragedy. As a a result, a never played before, violent game of cat and mouse ensues.
The film had a undeserved low-key release in the UK and I nearly forgot about it even after watching the trailer quite a while back.
But I have one word to sum this movie up, BRILLIANT! The film is a rollercoaster of a ride taking violence, emotions, sadness, revenge and important of all cinema to the next level. It's tense and compelling from the gut-wrenching beginning to the fulfilling end. Also in the mix you get a hint of humor, which surprisingly works in the midst of all the seriousness. The action is also enjoyable.
The violence is extreme and perfect for the story but not the worst I've seen.
The two lead actors in the movie, Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik share the most intense chemistry I've seen on-screen in recent times. Magnificent performances from the actors. Both nailing their roles is one reason the film works. Lee Byung-hun is one of my favourite Korean actors and he is simply fantastic as the ruthless avenging hero. His eyes do the talking throughout by effortlessly showing the unbearable pain he is suffering. Choi Min-sik as the villain is so evil and sick that I wanted to kill him. His acting is truly convincing, that convincing, I wouldn't be surprised if he actually is a serial-killer. Both lead actors deserve awards.
The show-stealer and the other reason that the feature works is because of the director, Kim Ji-woon who just makes everything work from the story, to the acting and to the way he's shown it on screen. The direction is flawless.
The background music score by Mowg is great and brings both the emotions and tension to life. The cinematography by Lee Mo-gae is stylish.
The feature is fresh and intelligent with edge of the seat suspense that has so many twists and turns. I enjoyed every minute of it.
'I Saw the Devil' is one of the best serial-killer thrillers of recent times.
on 9 May 2014
This would of been one of my favourite films of all time if we wouldn't have had the usual "moral battle" that plagues most revenge movies....I mean, the guy killed your wife and taunts you about it...rip out his insides and feed them to him and ENJOY DOING IT. THERE IS NO MORAL BATTLE.
Best part of film was second time he catches the scum and severs his achilles tendon, that was absolutely exquisite and wonderful...but went downhill after that with all the "inner turmoil" and pleading from his in-laws to stop...pathetic and annoying. Especially since the story is so damn good and it promises you so much when he tells him that "it's just beginning" after the second beat-down.
Amazingly well made and acted, but not enough punishment for my liking and when he does finally catch up with him at the end, he kills him in such a quick and pathetic way that there is no pay-off or feeling of satisfaction that he has suffered or been mentally broken down, which the story promised.
Massive let-down for me, impeccably well made, no doubt, but doesn't come close to the remake of "I Spit On Your Grave" in terms of satisfactory deaths of scum-bags.