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Frank M. Ahearn,
A struggling artist Hee-do is offered a million dollars to bet his life if he loses a game against a rich old man named No-shik who is dying from a terminal disease. However if Hee Do loses the game, he must trade his youth to the old man.. Written by
We are used to the greatness of contemporary South Korean cinema by now and "The Devil's Game" is another excellent addition to the collection of any serious movie maniac. The film is basically a mixture of a drama and a thriller with a few minor science-fiction elements that kick the story off. The movie is atmospheric, well acted and includes a major twist in the end. It includes many artistic elements. Just the choice of the impressive paintings shown in the movie is excellent. The philosophical inspirations and the intense ending give you a lot of food for thoughts. As many contemporary South Korean movies, this films also critically explores the differences between rich and poor in the country. This some sort of a slow cultural change as elders and billionaires are usually much respected in that country. This movie is not the first one that depicts the old and rich as dominant and ruthless and the young and poor as naive and pure. Watch the remake of "The Housemaid" or "The Taste of Money" for example.
The greatness already lies in the story but you have to observe closely to understand all the issues in this movie and it's maybe even worth to watch it twice. A rich old man who has controlled, exploited and manipulated all his life is about to die but dreams of eternal youth. He sets up a twisted game and somebody happens to choose an ambitious, poor and young artist as his opponent. The game is simple. The old and the young man call a random number and must guess if a man or a woman answers the call. The old man offers the young artist to become a billionaire if he wins. On the other side, the young has to offer something of an equal value. The naive artist believes that he has to become the old man's servant or slave but the price he has to pay is much higher. In the beginning, the young artist refuses to play the game and leaves the mansion but when he sees that his girlfriend and her family are beaten up because of some serious debts, he changes his mind and accepts the challenge. After several tumultuous events, the young artist dramatically loses the bet and realizes that he has an incredible price to pay. He has to offer his body to the old man to realize his dream of eternal youth. In a complicated surgery, the old man's brain is put into the young man's body and vice versa. When the old man in the young body awakens, he feels strong again and quickly starts to repeat the mistakes of his past life. He also tries to get close to the young man's girlfriend as well and pays off her debts. In the end, he really seems to fall in love with the woman who realizes that he is acting strangely. The young man in the old body awakens and feels sad and weak. He knows that he has only a few months to live. In the beginning, he seems to abandon but with the help of his uncle and a woman that had been betrayed by the old man as well, he starts to look for a way to get his former body and his girlfriend back.
The movie then introduces us to strong acting parts and a few promising plot ideas. Sadly, not all ideas are well employed and some of them quickly go nowhere or are not further explained towards the end. The movie has some lengths in the middle part where we see an arrogant, lonely and superficial old man in a young body and a desperate, insecure and whining young man in an old body. These parts between the thirty and sixty minutes into the movie include too much repetition in my opinion but the tense second half of the movie and especially the creative ending are worth the wait.
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