Film: I Saw The Devil
UK Release date: 9th May 2011
Running time: 140 mins
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Choi Min-sik, Jeon Gook-hwan, Jeon Ho-jin, Oh San-ha
Country: South Korea
Helmed by Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life), one of Korea’s most successful directors, I Saw The Devil is an action packed thriller, both disturbing and brilliant in equal measures.
Kyung-chul kills for pleasure, his victims ranging from young women to children. The police have chased him for a long time but have been unsuccessful. One day Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state. Her fiancé, a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself, doing everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means becoming a monster himself.
He said: Lee Byung-Hun (A Bittersweet Life) and Choi Min-Sik (Oldboy) play a deadly game of cat and mouse, serving up a devilish dish of bloody retribution and twisted revenge.
She said: Cat and mouse? You can say that again. Sadly, if you edited together every Tom and Jerry cartoon ever made, it would still be shorter than the second act of I Saw The Devil.
He said: Kim Jee-woon has yet to put a foot wrong in the director’s chair, delighting audiences the world over with his gritty thrillers, haunting horrors and quirky black comedy. From The Quiet Family to The Good, The Bad, The Weird, Kim Jee-woon has proven himself to be one of the most accomplished directors in the world today.
She said: Why is it so long then?
He said: Like A Bittersweet Life before it, I Saw The Devil starts slowly, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. The gentle drip feed of dread leads to an avalanche of glorified mayhem, brutality and bloodshed.
She said: You’ll also have to endure overblown dramatics as Kim Jee-woon overplays the funeral scene by a good five minutes. They’re upset. We get it.
He said: Choi Min-Sik is his ever-reliable self as the psychotic killer of the piece, and Lee Byung-Hun impresses with a ruthless efficiency that slowly unravels as the man loses his way in the darkness. There are plenty of twists and once I Saw The Devil finds its feet it doesn’t stop running.
She said: Both performances are impressively sinister, and it’s difficult at times to work out who to root for. Although Lee Byung-Hun’s character appears to have the upper hand throughout, it’s clear before we reach the final act that whatever happens to Kyung-chul, he’ll never find the complete closure he yearns for.
He said: It certainly puts you off taking a break in Korea; seems like everybody’s a killer in Kim Jee-woon’s energetic offering - a thriller so chilling you’ll need a pickaxe to free yourself from the sofa.
She said: A splendid, albeit slightly wearily plotted serial killer romp which eventually manages to establish itself with frenetic twists and some deliciously gruesome bumps along the way. If the cat and mouse shenanigans were trimmed, and the cringe-worthy opening cut altogether, this could’ve been a classic.
He said: Bloody, brutal and breathless, I Saw The Devil is another fine example of Korean cinema - a cold and calculated exercise in vengeance from an undeniable talent, not to mention two of Korea’s leading performers.