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Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a dangerous psychopath serial killer. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state. Her fiancé Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer. Written by
This movie is probably the heaviest one I have ever seen in terms of mental and physical brutality even though I know movies that touch me even more. Anybody that has problems with torture scenes, cannibalism, violations and explicit sexual content as well as repetitive harsh language should stop reading here and lock for something else. Anybody else is invited to watch a movie about a monster you have never seen before.
The movie turns around the question if one can and if so, how one could fight a monster. If two monsters fight each other can there be a winner and what are the consequences for other involved people. The movie hides in fact a lot of philosophical content and depth beneath the surface of blood and gore and is less superficial than it might seem at first sight.
The movie is comparable to the story of the great Korean vengeance trilogy around "Sympathy for Mister Vengeance", "Oldboy" and "Lady Vengeance". It has the same harsh language and great acting as the Korean crime masterpiece "Memories of murder". It has the same philosophical content as the Canadian "Les sept jours du talion". Those movies can be references but this flick isn't comparable to any Hollywood production. This movie is also much heavier than any of the mentioned movies and something like that could only be a success in a country like Korea because it would be cut or banned in Europe or North America. Be sure to catch the uncut version no matter how high the price because it's really worth it.
This movie doesn't only live from its shocking and gripping story and the numerous brutal scenes but also from the amazing acting. Choi Min-sik is one of Korea's greatest actors as he proved in "Oldboy" or "Lady Vengenace" but this time he is even more perfect than I expected. He plays his role with so much credibility and precision and is easily the best interpretation of a serial killer I have ever seen in a movie. Lee Byung-hun plays in a credible way a man that must become a monster to realize his promise and his revenge and he perfectly plays a broken person that goes through extreme changes. The other actors also deliver a more than solid job and remain credible. I must underline the acting of the weird cannibal friend of the monster and his strange wife (you should absolutely check out the deleted scenes).
The director also did a great and very detailed job. The acting is perfect, the settings work very well and a great atmosphere is created. Kim Jee-won already created the dark, calm and mind-blowing masterpiece "A tale of two sisters" and he shows in here that he can also create a heavy, pitiless and extreme movie like this. I happen to estimate him higher and higher and want to check out the rest of his movies.
In the end, this movie isn't maybe as gripping and stunningly original as my favourite Korean flicks "Oldboy", "A tale of two sisters" or "Memories of murder" but it surely is a movie you should check out if you like modern Asian cinema and if you liked the movies I've listed up in this review. It's a little masterpiece you won't forget after you have seen it and it's probably the best movie of the year to me. I would say that this movie underlines my opinion that the Korean cinema has become the best in the world during the last years.
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