Movie: I Saw the Devil
My Rating: 5 stars
I wrote about this movie a few years back, right when it came out. But, I had been wanting to rewatch it for some time now. It’s the kind of movie that gets in your head. And, I figured that now would be the perfect time, since I’m on this horror movie kick for the month of October. Actually, I was really spurred to rewatch this one after I heard an awful rumor (on the AV Club) that some American directors were planning on butchering yet another, practically perfect, Korean thriller with an English-language remake. It’s pretty scandalous that people aren’t making a bigger stink about this practice. I pretty much see it as racism. Because, it’s not like these American directors are improving on the originals. In fact, in the case of Oldboy, the newer version was much worse. I think they’re just stealing good ideas from elsewhere and pandering to the type of close-minded, xenophobic audiences who would never watch “foreigners” act on screen.
There. I’ve said my piece, so now we can move on to the story. I had actually forgotten a lot about the plot since seeing this movie three years ago. I had remembered that a young cop, Kim Soo-hyeon, is going rogue to hunt down the serial killer who murdered his fiancé. And, I think I remembered that he was successful. But, I had forgotten almost all the details—like how Soo-hyeon keeps tormenting Kyung-chul, to drive home the point, or just how irredeemably bad Kyung-chul actually was. Although, I did remember about how grisly this movie is to watch. There is so much gore and dismemberment. And, the director (Kin Jee-woon) is pretty good at showing us almost every bit of the violence. We see hammers hit skulls, knives cutting through tendons, and body parts hacked off. But, I was still surprised by some of the more brutal blows. This movie doesn’t shy away from violence. But then, this is a movie about a serial killer, and the man who is trying to make his life hell. It’d be silly not to show that stuff.
But, this movie is really more about character development than anything else. Kyung-chul is bad, and he stays bad. In fact, the director does us a favor by showing us how incurable this guy is early on. That way we can focus our attention on the evolution of the grieving Soo-hyeon. He’s the interesting one. We get to watch his nightmare descent into near-madness. The plot has plenty of holes. I noticed more of them upon this second viewing. And, I initially thought it would ruin it for me. But, then I forgot just how complex the story was. There are many different layers, and they all weave together to create a very satisfying plot and ending.
This is a good movie, and I definitely recommend it to fans of thriller/horror movies. Steer clear if you have a weak stomach. It’s brutal. But, it’s an interesting story, and has a very satisfying ending. And, it has all your favorite Korean actors. Lee Byung-hun is a heartthrob, and Choi Min-sik is terrifying as always. But, definitely see this one before the American abomination comes out.