Soo-hyun (the amazing Lee Bryung-hun) has recently lost his pregnant fiancée at the hands of sadistic serial killer, Kyung-chul (the fucking brilliant and fearless Choi-Min sik). With the help of his fiancée’s father and tracks down the killer and extracts a true carnal revenge only to purposefully let him go. Due to his job as a secret serviceman Soo-hyun becomes the hunter and stalks and terrorizes Kyung-chul to make his eventual death a painful, drawn-out experience.
I SAW THE DEVIL is a truly sinister, hard-core, take no prisoners revenge flick. Choi-Min sik’s Kyung-chul is dark, maniacal, almost inhuman animal whose thirst for blood never ends. As he says in one key scene of the movie, he has no emotion. He doesn’t feel pain. That’s one fucked up dude. The terror and hatred in his eyes when he corners any victim penetrates through the screen where as soon as I’m done writing this review, I’m going on IMDB.COM to see if Choi-Min sik’s been in a light-hearted romantic comedy. Please tell me he’s not that intimidating in real life! He’s genuinely frightening, more so than most actual horror movie villans. What makes him so evil is that there’s no exact method to his madness. His kills are random and heartless. Yes he’s a monster, he’s a hunter, and he’s damn good at it. Lee Bryung-hun’s Soo-hyun is a seemingly easy-everyman who taps into his beast-like nature. In short he kicks ass! I haven’t cheered for a protagonist out for revenge so much since the excellent, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. The layers of his character, like Kyung-chul, are peeled back throughout the film. After his fiancée’s murder, he isn’t just sad. He’s frozen and wastes no time extracting revenge on Kyung-chul.
On the surface ISTD is a revenge flick, but a revenge flick with its DNA rooted in horror, action, and a dose of Greek mythology in for good measure. It examines the truly dark nature of where the human psyche can go and how far someone will go for revenge. There isn’t a strong back story for either lead character, but they’re not entirely necessary. Everything we need to know about Kyung-chul nature is revealed well before the go for broke third act. A basic human understanding of love and accessibility is all that’s required to understand Soo-hyun present world. This story is a perfect snapshot of the present lives of the characters and it makes the final scene all the more poetic.
Credit is also due to Kim Ji-woon’s tight direction. He’s already proven to be a force in the film world with his previous hits A TALE OF TWO SISTERS and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD. In ISTD he pulls no punches and allows the actors to dance with their characters in a style of finesse that’s rarely seen in most genre films. The animalistic nature of Kyung-Chul and the protector Soo-hyun both possess the same physical powers but one is used for good and the other for evil.
This film is nearly perfect except for 2 things that made it’s awesomeness slightly less awesome, but they’re still easily overlooked. SPOILER ALERT!!! Once Kyung-chul overhears about the capsule in his stomach he decides to shit it out to throw Soo-hyun off track. The capsule had been in stomach for some time at this point in the story. Did Kyung-chul not take a dump in a matter of days? Did he only shit when he found out there was capsule in him? This hole in the script had me scratching my head. The second questionable moment occurred when Soo-hyun’s almost-sister in law walked into an empty house while knowing something was off. A few scenes prior she made a big stink about how paranoid she is after her sister’s murder and now she’s constantly looking over her shoulder. Maybe I’m putting myself into the world of the characters, but this is where someone would yell at the screen and tell her to run out of the house.
I bitched some time ago about the length of TRANSFORMERS 3 because is went past the 2 hour mark
and was about a fucking robot toy. ISTD is 2.5 hours but never felt it’s length to me. No scene out of the entire movie dragged nor felt unnecessary. If you’re going to make a movie past the 2 hour mark make every scene valid instead of showing a Victoria’s Secret model flash her tits in front of Shia LeBouf. Again thank you Sir, Mr, Your Honor Kim-Ji woon for this magnificent film.
**** out of 4
Chicken fried rice and jack n coke… actually forget about the chicken fried rice.