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Review: I Saw The Devil (Sundance)

I Saw The Devil (Sundance)
Feb. 4, 2011by:
100%
9 10


PLOT: When his young wife is murdered by a serial killer (Choi Min Sik), a secret agent (Byung-hun Lee) instigates a campaign of torture and revenge against the man- with the ultimate goal of making the killer finally discover what it truly means to be someones victim.

REVIEW: I SAW THE DEVIL was a deliriously violent treat I was lucky enough to catch towards the end of the Sundance Film Festival. A shockingly violent thriller, I SAW THE DEVIL was so disturbing to many in its native South Korea, that the film ran afoul of the local censors before hitting theaters. Luckily, at Sundance we were able to catch the full, uncut version of one the most exciting serial killer thrillers Ive seen since SE7EN.


Youve got to hand it to the South Koreans. Nobody makes thrillers like they do- with this being the best cat and mouse flick Ive seen since THE CHASER- another South Korean flick that rocked my word at the Fantasia Film Festival a few years ago. As shocking a film as I SAW THE DEVIL is, the thing that really surprises me is that no Hollywood studio has snapped up remake rights to the film, as this is as commercial a thriller as you could possibly imagine. Imagine THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS crossed with TAKEN, and you have a good idea of the type of film were dealing with here.

Its actually a fairly unique take on the serial killer, or giallo genre, as I havent seen a real slasher action flick since Sylvester Stallones COBRA from back in the day. While youd assume this was a horror flick based on the title, and the way shocked filmgoers have been describing the violence, I SAW THE DEVIL is actually more of an action flick- and a superb one at that.


The idea behind it is shockingly simple, but effective. Imagine a film where the slasher murders the wife of a secret agent on par with Jason Bourne, or Liam Neeson in TAKEN. What would happen? Naturally, the hero would go after the killer, but I SAW THE DEVIL takes that idea way further. Rather than solely take the life of his prey, our hero wants to make the killers life a living hell before finally snuffing him out. Within a half hour of the 141 minute running time, our hero already knows who the bad guy is. He catches him after a brief scrap, but rather than kill him, he just beats the living shit out of him, before leaving him unconscious with some cash so he can escape the authorities who are rapidly closing in on him.

After this initial meeting, he goes to get himself patched up at a clinic, before attempting to rape the young nurse working the late shift. Before he gets very far, our hero pops up again, saving the girl, and slicing the killers Achilles tendon, before having the nurse patch him up, so he can continue his campaign. And so the game continues


Alas, this would be a pretty boring thriller if all it was were sequences of the baddie getting beaten up every ten minutes or so. But, our hero has a weakness; he overrates his own genius, allowing Choi Min Siks character to slip out of his clutches, leading to a new campaign of terror, waged on the remaining members of our heros family. From then on, this becomes a terrifying nail-bitter, and a film that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

I SAW THE DEVIL is the latest film from Kim Ji-Woon, whos rapidly establishing himself as one of the premiere Korean directors, with this following on the heels of his acclaimed THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE WEIRD. Kims one hell of an action director with this featuring two of the best action sequences Ive seen in a while. The first features Choi Min-Sik having a knife fight with two men in a cab thats spinning out of control. The second is an extended set piece where Byung-Hun Lee finds himself trapped in a remote mansion, trying to rescue a young woman whos about to fall victim to Choi and a flesh-eating, serial killer crony of his.

The film also happens to include two of South Koreas biggest stars in the lead roles. As the villain, I SAW THE DEVIL gives Choi Min-Ski his most iconic role since the great OLDBOY, and his wacked-out intensity is a perfect match to the role. As the hero, Byung-Hun Lee (Storm Shadow in GI JOE) comes off as an engaging, Chow Yun-Fat style badass good guy.

I SAW THE DEVIL really is one of the most exciting thrillers Ive seen in a long time, and if you can stomach the extreme violence (which, to be sure- is more of the KILLER INSIDE ME variety than the exploitative SAW kind), this is a suspenseful nail-biter sure to please horror and action fans alike.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+4
9:05AM on 02/04/2011
Goddamn.

Now where can I catch this?
Goddamn.

Now where can I catch this?
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9:50AM on 02/04/2011
there may or may not be a torrent floating around, but you didn't hear that from me (yes you did)
there may or may not be a torrent floating around, but you didn't hear that from me (yes you did)
+4
11:56AM on 02/04/2011

You're right!

I saw it two months ago in an spanish festival and I have to say that movie is FUCKING FANTASTIC!, absolutely terrific, an incredible masterpiece.
I saw it two months ago in an spanish festival and I have to say that movie is FUCKING FANTASTIC!, absolutely terrific, an incredible masterpiece.
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2:22PM on 02/04/2011

Sounds Great!

i will for sure keep an eye out for this later this year when it hits netflix or blu ray. I hope no american studios snag the rights to remake an american version of this unless its Fincher of course. Great Review!
i will for sure keep an eye out for this later this year when it hits netflix or blu ray. I hope no american studios snag the rights to remake an american version of this unless its Fincher of course. Great Review!
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5:21PM on 02/04/2011
Saw it recently myself and while I'm a big fan of South Korean movies I can't say I loved this one. It looks slick, it has some terrific moments but the story didn't entirly make sense to me. The whole letting the killer go in order to torture and torment him bit started out cool and promising. But like Mr. Bumbray (rather spoilerishly) mentioned the protagonist underestimates the killer and some people get hurt because of it. So just because he came up with this plan to make the killer suffer
Saw it recently myself and while I'm a big fan of South Korean movies I can't say I loved this one. It looks slick, it has some terrific moments but the story didn't entirly make sense to me. The whole letting the killer go in order to torture and torment him bit started out cool and promising. But like Mr. Bumbray (rather spoilerishly) mentioned the protagonist underestimates the killer and some people get hurt because of it. So just because he came up with this plan to make the killer suffer a 1000 times more than his wife did a bunch of innocent people suffer because of it. In my eyes it made the protagonist come off a bit ignorant and selfish. He could've just tortured the killer for a couple of hours/days and killed him.
All things said and done, these are just my 2 cents and this "quibble" shouldn't be a problem for everyone.
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+3
7:05PM on 02/04/2011
I haven't even heard about this film yet, but I will see it if possible. The So. Koreans have had a good run in the past couple of years. The Man From Nowhere was one of my favorite films of last year and this has a similar revenge tone to it (both films even involve specially trained people). Hopefully this comes to my local theater, which plays a lot of asian films.
I haven't even heard about this film yet, but I will see it if possible. The So. Koreans have had a good run in the past couple of years. The Man From Nowhere was one of my favorite films of last year and this has a similar revenge tone to it (both films even involve specially trained people). Hopefully this comes to my local theater, which plays a lot of asian films.
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+1
11:01AM on 02/22/2011

Hits Canadian Theaters March 18th

Great film! highly recommend. I've never seen a gore film so beautifully shot. Brilliant!

Heres the Canadian site:
[link]
Great film! highly recommend. I've never seen a gore film so beautifully shot. Brilliant!

Heres the Canadian site:
[link]
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