Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: I Saw The Devil (2010)

I Saw The Devil (Review)
Kim Jee-woon/Choi Min-sik, Lee Byung-hun/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"Step out of your comfort zone and have a close look at this Devil."

After his fiance is found brutally murdered, secret service agent Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) will stop at nothing to avenge her death...

I Saw The Devil continues as Soo-hyun begins searching for his fiance's murderer. His off-the-record and unconventional investigations lead him to a savage serial killer named Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik). Using advanced tracking technology he plants in Kyung-chul, Soo-hyun starts tracking his every move and becomes determined to make him feel the same pain his fiance felt. So, if Kyung-chul is about to assault a woman, Soo-hyun will step in and brutally punish him. The cycle continues and we witness the degeneration of Soo-hyun up to the very end. The ending is shocking in many ways – violently and philosophically.

I Saw The Devil is a disturbing revenge thriller. The story is simple enough for anyone to grasp, which is a plus; the characters and their respective character arcs add to the philosophy of the film, albeit in a subtle manner, which is another major positive for the film. Notorious for its graphic violence, I Saw The Devil will not disappoint those looking for a shocking thriller. And, it's not just the violence, I Saw The Devil treads into taboo territory many filmmakers don't dare to enter. This makes the film feel much more thrilling and exhilarating – almost like something we're not supposed to watch – a feeling you don't feel often watching mainstream releases. Furthermore, looking beyond the surface, we see a film that really makes you question the concept of “revenge” – is there always a winner? Does it feel good? I Saw The Devil achieves much more than toppling any censorship or filmmaker compromise, it becomes a thought-provoking and unforgettable thriller when it all blends together.

Choi Min-sik delivers a superb performance – a vicious and devil-like character captured perfectly through Min-sik's brilliant adoption of a psychopath's mind. Lee Byung-hun is equally impressive – his character is much more emotional, but equally complex. The cinematography and camerawork are beautiful, every scene is crafted meticulously to create an elegant yet disturbing work of art. The music also greatly aids in creating the atmosphere through its somber tones. The special effects were almost perfect; there is one scene, albeit a brief one, that has some clear use of computer and looks a bit out of place. Kim Ji-woon masterfully crafts his disturbing but honest vision without compromise – and, with a distinct style, as well. Ji-woon is a creative, brilliant, and daring filmmaker.

Overall, I Saw The Devil is a masterpiece. It's brilliantly crafted, and becomes much more than your standard revenge thriller, especially when you look beyond the surface. And, even if you don't care to think deeply about film, I Saw The Devil delivers a thrilling, exhilarating, and cringe-worthy experience unlike any other. Step out of your comfort zone and have a close look at this Devil.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, gore, sex and nudity.

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