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May 3, 2011 / AM Collins

[I Saw the Devil] Review

I recently watched I Saw the Devil, the latest film by Kim Jee-Woon.  I am a fan of Jee-Woon’s films, I have a copy of The Good, the Bad, the Weird being passed around my circle of friends to rally approval for his body of work.  I was excited when I learned that the film would be playing in limited release in San Francisco, and marked my calender to go.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of the vengeance trilogy by Park Chan-Wook, and that this style of film is my guilty pleasure.  I am also not easily impressed by the “torture porn” genre, like the Saw franchise.  I believe that the difference between this film and torture porn is the motive behind the violence.  The Saw films depend on the violence to get people to watch the film, I Saw the Devil is character driven with lots of violent scenes.  Okay, I admit that MOST people will still see this film as meaningless violence, but I still like to think of it as being slightly more sophisticated.

Back to the review, I Saw the Devil is shockingly violent.  The characters are insane, the motive behind their actions are usually not clearly defined, and the amount of innocent blood shed for the sake of revenge is high.  If you liked any of Park Chan-Wook’s films, this would make a nice companion to the vengeance set.  I had a hard time believing that the main character was really stupid enough to let a killer run loose, and that there were so many coincidences that happened to occur, but it was fun to watch the fight scenes.  Oldboy’s Min-Sik Choi does a great job of being a serial killer without a conscious.  You really loathe his character, and enjoy seeing him defeated over and over again.

I think my biggest gripe with the film was the ending sequence, it felt way too over the top and Hollywood.  Detective Kim, played by Byung-hun Lee, does some cheesy kidnap the killer from a moving vehicle stunt and I really don’t think it matched the flow of the rest of the film.

I really liked the ending, I thought it was fitting to the characters, and it showed that the main character, Kim, actually felt bad for his actions which was needed.  Not as good as The Good, the Bad, the Weird, but overall worth watching.  If you can find a copy on DVD, hook up some good audio equipment so you can enjoy all the squishy murder scenes.



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