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When beautiful Hae-Won is forced to take a vacation she finds herself drawn to the island of Moodo, where she once spent an idyllic childhood holiday. On arrival she’s reunited with her old friend Bok-Nam. Hae-Won soon realises that life on the island is far removed from the paradise that she remembers. Amidst the beautiful landscape and breathtaking scenery a vile and spiteful society has been allowed to co-exist. The hapless Bok-Nam is ritually abused by the male population and completely exploited by her female elders. When an attempt to escape results in the death of a loved one, Bok-Nam decides to take things into her own hands. With nothing left to live for and nothing left to lose, Bok Nam’s reign of gruesome, blood drenched revenge begins.
Powerful, poignant and extremely unsettling, Bedevilled is one of the most shocking and disturbing films from Korea since the notorious Old Boy, an experience you'll never forget.
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Seo Young-hee produces an absolutely mesmerising performance as Bok-nam, she's nothing short of spectacular. She goes from one emotion to another effortlessly and deservingly picked up several awards for her performance, it's certainly one of the strongest performances I've seen in a long time. Seo Young-hee will be recognisable to fans of Korean cinema for another very good performance in another excellent film called The Chaser. Ji Sung-won also gives a good performance as Hae-won, without actually doing anything particularly evil or cruel, she manages to make her character extremely dislikeable which is no easy feat considering who she's on the island with. Park Jeong-hak is excellent as the sadistic Man-jong, Bok-nam's husband. He will beat Bok-nam for the smallest of reasons, sleep with prostitutes with her sat right outside, and it's even hinted that he has been doing something even more despicable. All of the actors in smaller roles are good, especially the old women on the island that treat Bok-nam like dirt and get her to do all the chores, while they do nothing but complain.
Bedevilled is the directorial debut of Jang Cheol-soo, he's done a fantastic job considering his only previous experience appears to have been as an assistant director on a film called Samaritan Girl. The film is a slow burner that really takes its time to introduce the characters, nothing particularly exciting happens for the first hour but it's never boring, I was absolutely gripped by the film from the moment Hae-won arrives on the island. For the first hour the film is an excellent drama, it's only in the last half an hour or so that the film kicks it up a gear and becomes a psychological thriller that verges on becoming a horror film. I'm sure some people will be bored stiff by the opening hour of the film, but I think I actually prefer it over the second half of the film. We really do get to know what Bok-nam's life has been like on this island, an island she has never left, it's all she's ever known and she truly is isolated with no where to go. The cinematography is excellent as I've come to expect from Korean films, the small island surrounded by water looks incredible, especially when the harsh light of the sun is beaming down. Promoted as a revenge thriller/horror film, gore hounds definitely get what they're after in the final half an hour, there's plenty of the red stuff and it's all done very realistically, I have to be honest and say that I really enjoyed seeing these islanders get their comeuppance, I don't think I've ever seen characters so deserving of their fate. Some of the violence is at times hard to take, and I feel I should point out that a young girl is struck several times which may upset some viewers as it's intended to.
The Blu-ray looks great, the colours are slightly muted with lots of yellows, greens and browns but detail is extremely strong and the island itself looks beautiful, I'd definitely recommend getting the Blu-ray over the DVD. It is in Korean with English subtitles, no other subtitle options are available. There's not much in the way of extras, a thirteen minute behind the scenes, a trailer and TV spot.
Bedevilled is a wonderful, powerful, sad film that is an absolute must watch for fans of Korean cinema, I personally found it just as good as Park Chan-wook's Vengeance trilogy and in many ways this has a similar feel to those with the slow build up and brutal tale of revenge. The acting is of a very high standard, especially Seo Young-hee who gives what will probably be her best ever performance, the story is gripping and intelligently told and it's beautifully shot. I would have preferred a slightly different ending, but at the same time I had no real problem with it. The Koreans have made some fantastic gritty, bloody thrillers in the last decade, this is just about as good as any of the others I've seen. Also recommended would be Memories Of Murder which is actually even better than this, The Chaser, I Saw The Devil, Mother, The Man From Nowhere, The Yellow Sea and of course the Vengeance trilogy. All excellent. I genuinely feel when it comes to these gritty and brutal thrillers, Korea have been head and shoulders above anyone else now for a while, they really are producing some stunning films. What's even more amazing is that this fantastic film was shot on a budget of around $700,000, showing a film doesn't have to have a huge budget to be good.
This film really got me thinking.
Just because everyone else's doing it doesn't make it right, and certainly should never make it acceptable. Wrong is wrong. Period. But, do we have the courage to be different, stand up and do something about it?
I really like korean films, I often go for horror, but I'm a massive fan of these type of films, the female vengeance theme is portrayed so well in korean cinema, I think it's because they are not straight forward thrillers, the story is always emotive and has twists but the characters are always so interesting, they are normal women that have been turned into phsychos but they have this passion and motherly instinct that makes you really enjoy watching them obtain their satisfaction.
This is a great example of that type of film, but it's a little different to Princess Aurora and Lady Vengeance in the setting and the characters yet all the traits that make the story so amazing are there.
It wasn't the ending I wanted, but the ending was perfect for this tragic story.