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I Saw the Devil

Evil lives inside. 

Year: 2010 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Jee-woon Kim 
Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi  
An image from I Saw the Devil

Prolific serial killer Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi) crosses the wrong man in his opportunistic roadside killing of government agent Kim Soo-hyeon’s (Byung-hun Lee) fiancée. Upon the discovery of her dismembered body, Kim vows to make the killer’s suffering far greater than hers was, and he does not disappoint. Armed with weapons ranging from scalpels to fire extinguishers he taunts Kyung-chul, repeatedly capturing and releasing him, leaving his mark each time. When Kyung-chul starts to fight back, however, it’s not just the two adversaries in the firing line as the roles of hunter and hunted become distorted.

Jee-woon Kim’s tale of revenge offers far more than a grisly spectacle of horror and torture as his protagonist embarks on his pursuit of retribution. Though the picturesque countryside of South Korea that accommodates Kyung-chul seems full of murderers, cannibals and rapists, we are afforded touching loyalty and sentiment that Kim Soo-hyeon experiences in his familial and friendly relationships. Min-sik Choi’s performance as the killer is superb, displaying just the right amounts of charisma, depravity and insanity, punctuated sparingly with dark humour guaranteed to have the audience reluctantly laughing. Jee-woon Kim exhibits the erosion of the distinction between good and evil as Kim becomes increasingly monstrous to exact vengeance, but retains an undercurrent of emotion throughout, preventing the movie becoming just another straightforward horror or revenge flick.

The credentials of the director Kim are ever-expanding, and I Saw the Devil joins his growing list of movies that transform and blend genres to create unique films. Sitting proudly alongside horror/family drama A Tale of Two Sisters and spaghetti Western homage and cult hit The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil offers a unique slant on the revenge movie that fans of films such as Kill Bill and Oldboy will love.

James Cook

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