Monday, March 28, 2011
I Saw the Devil (2010)
Directed By: Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters)
If you asked me what my all-time favorite foreign film is, I would have to sat Oldboy. Now of course it seems these days like anything overseas seems to be way ahead of just about anything American With even the weaker films seeming to be really good. With the film, I Saw the Devil, I have found one that ALMOST matches Oldboy in my mind, almost! Of course both have Choi Min-sik in them, who I consider to be one of the best actors in the whole world not just over there. This movie has went on to become the flavor of the year of sorts here in the states, and now after seeing it myself I do believe it's for good reason.
After Kim Soo-hyeon's pregnant fiancee becomes the new victim of a crazy serial killer (played by Choi Min-sik), Kim makes a vow to find the bastard behind it and make him pay times a million for what he has done to his poor fiancee. As he goes on his path of rage and bloody vengeance the lines of good and evil get erased as what comes to the forefront is a game of sorts between the two just to see who can hurt the other physically and emotionally the worse. It's a story that can pull on your heart strings and keep your attention very easily for the somewhat long-ish run-time of the film.
Has Choi Min-sik ever been in a bad film? OK, don't answer that, I don't actually want to know. What I DO know is I've never seen him in a bad film and I'm pleased with that. The man can make you love him or hate him and in I Saw the Devil he is for sure a sorry bastard that you want to see get his. He's heartless, he's relentless, and he is sadistic, just the way a cold blooded killer needs to be. It plays well off of actor Lee Byung-hun (Who played Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe btw), who is the hurt man who's woman's life ends way too soon thanks to Min-sik's character. That makes the cat and mouse game that much more interesting.
And what an interesting story it is. Kim Soo-hyeon doesn't just want revenge for his fiancee, he wants to make Kyung-Chul pay ten fold for what he has done. And thus, just simply killing him won't do. This movie could have been ended a few times but the game goes on just because Kim wants to make Kyung pay that much. Also in doing as much he finds that nothing seems to really make up for what has been done and no amount of pain or punishment seems fitting enough. In this is where our plot gets even more interesting later on when the tables get turned on Kim and a whole new element comes into play. It's truly compelling stuff.
I also LOVE the way this film is shot. It's just beautiful cinematography from it's snowy beginning to it's haunting ending. The man behind the camera has a vision and he knows what he is doing and it shows here. I also think the blood is another thing done really well, as with most Asian films, they don't really hold anything back. While still the violence is tame to a man like me, it would be extremely hard for someone to watch that isn't use to it. I still however would say the emotions that are played on do more to pull you into the film and work better at driving home all points, even more so than the violence.
This film isn't a short one but you won't notice the time at all. It packs great scenes and great actors and hammers home even more the already strong plot. I think once it ends you'll be satisfied with the ending and I think you might find it a rewarding movie to sit through as the people you are supposed to like, you like a lot. And we also despise who we are meant to hate. While I wouldn't say it's as good as Oldboy, I'd say it comes pretty close at the end of the day and no matter if you seen it last year or this year, I think you have a shoe-in for a year end top 10 films.
While at the moment this film is a limited released film, whenever you get a shot to catch this thing you should go out of your way to do so. It's good stuff all around here from people we've come expect good stuff from. I wish more American movies were done this well. Let's just hope we don't get an American remake with Will Smith or something now right? Either way, GREAT films, and you NEED to see it.
The Rating (9/10)