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Haunting but beautiful.
inkgrenade18 November 2010
Whenever I see a negative review of "I Saw the Devil", the critic always mentions (scornfully) that the movie is ultra violent and portrays women in horrifying circumstances. Yes it is, and yes it does.

But this isn't a Hollywood slasher flick. The kills in this movie are not gratifying and aren't meant to be. The women being killed are not scantily clad models running through forests from men wearing masks. There is nothing pleasant or "cool" about these scenes; they make the viewer uncomfortable, they unsettle, they bring one's mind into very dark places. It gives us a peek into the madness that every man is capable of, and does so realistically and without pulling its punches. This brutal realism makes people uncomfortable, and prompts negative reviews. This is understandable, but unfortunate. I believe that a movie should be judged on more than the amount of blood the viewer is comfortable seeing on-screen. To these people, please, do not watch Korean revenge thrillers if you are uncomfortable with torture or blood.

But enough of that rambling. This movie is excellent. Beautiful cinematography contrasts the stark, dimly lit scenes where the murders, or gritty fight scenes, occur. The camera work is simple but effective; the viewer is often treated to close-ups of both Byung-hun Lee and Mik-sik Choi, and their facial expressions tell us more than dialogue ever could. There is also contrast between Lee and Choi. Lee, clean and stoic, and Choi, filthy and madly expressive. They compliment each other very well, and play off of each others strengths effectively.

The story itself is typical of revenge films, but fantastic in its execution. Lee's character experiences a profound loss at the hands of Choi's character, and in the process of seeking revenge begins to resemble the man he so hates. The line between "victim" and "aggressor" becomes blurred between both characters. This is where the film shines. There is no black and white in "I Saw the Devil"; the viewer is left with shades of grey.

As for the acting, it was all done very well. As I mentioned, Lee and Choi work well together, and all supporting cast members did an excellent job. Choi portrays his character in an incredibly convincing manner, shifting suddenly from calmness to manic anger, but never in a way that feels unnatural or forced. Lee's character is quiet and much less expressive, but he does very well in showing immense amounts of emotion through just his eyes or subtle movements of his body. A memorable performance from them both.

As for flaws, the only thing I can think of is the strange, perhaps unrealistic behaviour of the police. Lee is a member of the NIS, and is very skilled when it comes to remaining hidden, but that shouldn't make him untouchable when directly provoking police officers or driving on the wrong side of the street. Still, though, it's a very trivial complaint that isn't worth a deducted point.

A confident 10/10 from me. If you are comfortable seeing serial murder portrayed realistically, and are able to appreciate more than just gore, please, do yourself a favour and watch this film.
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An uncompromising, unsettling and unforgettable thriller
DonFishies24 September 2010
This movie is not for the squeamish, or the faint of heart. Censors claimed it was offensive to human dignity. These were the kinds of things they told the audience at the world premiere screening of the Uncut Version of I Saw the Devil at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. I had heard the movie was pretty graphic, but I never expected that it would push any boundaries. I turned out to be only half right.

After finding out his fiancée has been brutally murdered, secret agent Dae-hoon (Byung-hun Lee) is at a loss. With the help of his father-in-law, he sets out on a revenge plot to find the man who did it. He quickly finds the culprit, Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). He beats him pretty badly, but instead of killing him, he leaves him alive. He wants to stalk his prey, and exact his revenge slowly and increasingly more painfully.

Going in with very few ideas of what I was about to see, I was startled and thrilled at the tenacious audacity on display from the opening scene all the way until the final frames. The film is a gritty, merciless experience that could never be truly recreated in North America. This is the kind of hard-boiled revenge thriller you could only find in Korea. And to hear that even the censors there could not handle Kim Ji-woon's complete vision makes the film all the more uncompromising and astounding. It has taken me well over a week to try and come up with the words to describe and review the film, but never once have I forgotten anything I saw. It is quite simply, unforgettable.

I was right in assuming the film would not push the boundaries of what can be shown in regards to graphic violence and gore. But it comes really close. It makes Park Chan-Wook's entire Vengeance Trilogy look about as violent as the Toy Story Trilogy. Blood sprays, flies, drips, gushes – every verb or way blood can possibly flow out of the human body occurs over the course of the film. It relishes in it no matter if the shot is raw, unflinching and real, or hyper stylized and completely over-the-top. One sequence involving a brutal double murder as the camera swoops around the scene in a circle is simply magnificent to watch, both to see how much blood is spilt and for how wicked and incredible a shot it is.

The revenge tale at the core of I Saw the Devil is not all too original, but it is the story and idea around it that is. Very rarely do we see a film with two characters that start off completely different, but very slowly become all in the same. Dae-hoon and Kyung-chul are both very stubborn individuals, who will not back down from each other. They just keep at each other, and even as Kyung-chul is continually beaten, abused and victimized, he never once lets up. I keep coming back to a comparison with Batman and The Joker in The Dark Knight, and how those two menaces push each other to their physical limits, and that is exactly what happens in this film. While it was easy to pick sides in Dark Knight, Ji-woon makes it increasingly difficult for the audience to figure out who they should sympathize with here. It is a haunting and blatantly moral-defying story, and its raw and emotional undertones are more than difficult to swallow.

But the key problem I found with the film is Ji-woon's lack of ability to know when to cut. There are easily twenty minutes that could be chopped right out of the film, and none of its edge would be lost in the process. I was glued to the screen for the majority of the film, but found myself checking my watch more than once because I was totally baffled as to why it runs over 140 minutes. There is only so much revenge one can take and comprehend, and having the film run so long makes it all too easy to call out as being self-indulgent. I respect the film, and I respect Ji-woon as a filmmaker (I wanted to seek out the rest of his film catalogue immediately after the lights came up), but it just makes such an incredible movie feel a bit sloppy and weakened as a cohesive package.

Another inconsistent element is Lee's Dan-hoon. We never learn much about him outside of his being a secret agent and wanting to inflict as much pain as he can through his revenge scheme. So how are we to assume he was not a sick and twisted individual in the first place? How are we to know this is not his first time inflicting such a painful revenge? He rarely speaks, and his cold, calculating eyes never once give us a hint of any further development. It is a great performance by Lee, but it is one that feels very underdeveloped – outside of some rather obvious sequences.

But then, anyone would look underdeveloped when standing next to Choi. The man gives a performance that is the stuff of legend. He was incredible as the lead in Oldboy as the man who was wronged, and is even better as the wrongdoer here. He brings out the monster in Kyung-chul all too easily, and his riveting performance is unmissable. The transformation into this disgusting, psychopathic creature is nothing short of amazing. He chews up scenery at every turn, and is magnetic on screen. Nothing even comes close to equaling the power, intensity and dare I say authenticity he puts into this character. He is the stuff of nightmares.

I Saw the Devil is a great revenge thriller, but is far from perfect. Choi's electric performance alone should become required viewing for anyone with any interest in film.


(An edited version of this review also appeared on http://www.geekspeakmagazine.com).
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A bloody masterpiece
thedrake12 June 2011
I Saw The Devil is a bloody masterpiece. Jee-woon Kim has proved himself to be a master storyteller. Beautiful shots, a creative script, perfect acting and intense violence make I Saw The Devil a must-see movie for anyone who calls themselves a horror fan.

It's a breath of fresh air in a seemingly stagnant genre full of the same old vampire and zombie stories being retold over and over. And yes, there have been loads of revenge movies before, but I Saw The Devil takes it to the next level.

Gritty, dark, gory and original: I loved this movie, and I don't like anything. I just hope an American company doesn't comes along to make a shallow remake (Let The Right One In).
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Ugly and visceral serial killer movie.
HumanoidOfFlesh24 January 2011
The plot of "I Saw the Devil" revolves around a detective whose beautiful fiancée is savagely murdered by a vicious psychopath played by "Oldboy" himself Min-Sik Choy.Despairing cop quickly tracks down the psycho,tortures him a little and lets him free to play his own gruesome catch-and-release game...Hauntingy beautiful and sickeningly violent thriller from the director of mesmerizing "A Tale of Two Sisters".The cinematography is gorgeous,the action is hypnotic and the murders are savage and unrelenting.The plot is extremely dark and demented,so I was utterly enthralled.You will feel pain,agony and sadness in every inch of your body during "I Saw the Devil".The best serial killer movie since "The Silence of the Lambs".Watch it in pair with Gerald Kargl's "Angst" and be amazed.9 serial killers out of 10.
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Brutally profound
pizza015 September 2010
Just came back from the TIFF 10 screening of the UNCUT version of this film, and after reading the very first review posted here, I feel somewhat compelled to leave a short comment.

the movie is about revenge. a woman is murdered by a serial killer, the woman's soon-to-be husband, who happens be a highly trained special agent, takes revenge on the serial killer in some of the most gruesome ways ever presented on film.

The "TAKEN"-esque plot is fairly straight forward and even predictable at times, for some people, this unfortunately exposes the violence and turns it into a dominating theme, hence remarks of it being mindless and unnecessary are brought up.

But fans of this genre can easily see past the violence, and be drawn back to the noir nature of the film with each passing violence "segement", in the end, you can feel the main character's will for revenge, and that simply transcends the violence, and ultimately turns the film into an imaginative commentary on the human condition.

the film would also remind you of classic Fincher films, namely se7en, however, the theatrical construction of plot is a signature Ji Woon Kim style, the mise-en-scene, the soundtrack, you see it in every single film of his, especially bittersweet life.

after watching this film I found myself immediately comparing it to another masterpiece sympathy for mr.vengeance, so for those of you who have seen chan wook park's revenge trilogy and loved it, you should find time to see this film.
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"A real complete revenge."
ElijahCSkuggs27 November 2010
Are most revenge stories totally complete? Is Hammurabi's Code not good enough? An eye for an eye, a life for a life? 'I Saw the Devil' doesn't think so, and I have to agree.

With top Korean names as Ji-Woon Kim (A Bittersweet Life, Tale of Two Sisters), Byung-hun Lee (A Bittersweet Life) and the always amazing Min-Sik Choi (everything), this film had some lofty expectations, and I can easily say that whatever expectations I had, they were smashed, bashed, and slashed into smithereens and finally, thrown out the window.

Wronged by the blood-thirsty psycho Choi, Agent Byhung takes vengeance into his own hands in unrelenting fashion. And boy howdy, we got some serious, flesh-ripping and bone-shattering revenge here. Mix in great direction, cinematography, choreography, music, and, of course, dynamite acting, you've got one fantastic flick.

Not long into the film, I began to wonder if Min-Sik Choi was delivering one of the all-time anti-hero performances, and for a minute or two, I was definitely thinking that this was the case. However, those anti-hero thoughts were quickly dashed away - he's straight up evil. Always the reliable actor, Min-Sik may have out-done himself; he successfully transformed into one of cinema's most memorable serial killer/villains.

Beyond wishing for a stronger emotional impact, this film is just perfect stuff in my eyes. Serial killer movies are being made brilliantly by our beloved brothers from South Korea, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart with big hugs and kisses.
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A perfect tale of revenge
kluseba13 June 2011
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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Exquisite, effective and merciless
barnezboi18 August 2010
First and foremost, much of this movie borders on, for lack of a better word, the obscene. There are plenty of scenes that bring to mind soft-core pornography, and the violence is incredibly gory and at times, over the top. Some of the actions performed on screen will make most viewers squirm uncomfortably, while a vast majority of those that aren't will let the audience's mind drift to some very, very scary places.

In short, its a visceral thriller. The movie is essentially driven by both lead characters trying to inflict as much pain and terror in one another as possible. Unlike most serial killer/crime thrillers, both the two characters collide (in violent, brutal fashion) with one another many, many times, leaving each other bloodied and eager for the next encounter. During these scenes, the movie takes on an unexpected action tone, with plenty of engaging fights that include knives, scythes, screwdrivers and in one scene, a fire extinguisher. In between these scenes the audience is shown the full depravity of the serial killer's psychopathic nature, who pretty much succeeds on setting the bar for on screen insanity.

If this sounds like a mindless action/thriller summer film, you'd be mistaken. Both Choi M.S and Lee B.H deliver great performances, with Choi in particular acting disturbingly convincing as a completely unhinged maniac. The plot, although somewhat predictable, is nonetheless entertaining and once set in motion, incredibly gripping. There are plenty of cheap "boo! gotcha" scares, but some scenes are masterfully crafted to generate a LOT of tension. Believe me when I say that there were plenty of scenes where you could literally see that the rest of the audience wasn't even breathing, much less moving. As mentioned earlier, the action scenes are shot surprisingly well, and there's a certain pleasure to be derived from watching the hunter become hunted... and in such an exquisite, effective and merciless manner.

On an aside, the movie seems to have remake potential with Hollywood production. Perhaps starring Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr. (as a serial killer? wouldn't you be terrified?), with maybe... Danny Boyle at the helm? Hopefully the movie does well enough in its release to receive any considerations.
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Best serial killer movie since Se7en
Greg15 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Prior to my screening on I Saw the Devil at the Toronto International Film Festival, all I knew about the film was the one sentence provided to me by IMDb.com: A secret agent tracks a serial killer who murdered his fiancée. But I did know that the film was directed by Ji-woon Kim who helmed last year's brilliant, the Good, The Bad and The Weird. And on the strength of that resume entry alone, I secured tickets to I Saw the Devil. To say that I wasn't prepared for what I was about to screen was an understatement. And I certainly wasn't prepared to comment that I Saw the Devil is the best film about a serial killer since Se7en. The film begins with the serial killer abducting a female victim. After nearly destroying her head with a hammer, he dismembers her and disposes of the various body parts. A search ensues, and her head is found is shallow waters. We learn that the murdered young girl was the fiancée of Kim So-Hyun who happens to be some kind of Special Service bodyguard. She also was the daughter of the former Chief of Police. Kim So-Hyun abruptly takes two weeks off work and begins a manhunt for his finances killer. He has narrowed it down to four possibilities and after roughing up the first two (multiple wrench blows to the nuts) he focuses on his third suspect named Kang. We know from the opening scene that Kang is indeed the killer and when Kim So-Hyun breaks into his home, he realizes he has found his man. But instead of turning Kang over to justice, Kim decides that he will beat, torture and then release Kang over and over again tormenting him without peace. A transmitter swallowed unwillingly by Kang allows Kim to follow his every move. The next reels of film will follow as Kim dispels some incredibly violent and bloody vengeance on Kang. Using everything from rocks to plastic bags to fire extinguishers and fish hooks, Kim will enter Kang's life, beat him near death, then leave him to his wounds only to hunt him down and beat him some more. The scenes of the beatings are not for the faint of heart as I Saw the Devil is not for the squeamish. I scalpel to the foot and the cutting of the Achilles tendon got the biggest reaction from the crowd, but there is enough blood and torture afflicted here to give anyone nightmares. Ji-woon Kim brilliantly weaves a tale that has not been shown in film before. Our two leads meet each other early in the film whereas most serial killer films don't pit the law and the maniac on the screen together until the final act. Kim clearly has the upper hand until a turn of events allow Kang to again strike back. It's like two heavyweight boxers standing in the ring going toe-to-toe in a crowd pleasing match of heavy blows. And just when Kang takes control again and tries to surrender to police, Kim again finds a way to avenge his family. Byung-hun Lee as Kim and Min-sik Choi as Kang, are brilliantly cast and bring an energy to the screen that is maintained through the 144 minutes of the uncut edit. The supporting cast which essentially involves further Kang victims or unsavory characters that deserve their fates, do just enough to distract us from the brutality of the one-on-one battle and allow us to catch our breath (barely) before the carnage begins anew. It's been a while since I have been so invigorated and involved in a film such as I Saw the Devil that I wanted to climb the highest mountain and sing its praises, but this film delivers the goods. Rarely do you find an audience involved with that much violence on screen, cheering and applauding when a character utters, "I'm far from done" during a blood soaked frenzy of activity. I didn't just see the devil. I saw the best serial killer movie in many years and clearly one that goes in my Top 5 serial killer films of all time.
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Brutal & Brilliant
shark-4314 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I SAW THE DEVIL is a brutal, bloody, shocking and very effective crime drama. A psychopath has killed many young girls and when one of them turns out to be the pregnant fiancé of a government agent - the agent takes matter into his own hands to track down the killer and make him pay. Now in many American movies, the hero would spend the whole movie tracking the guy down then finally have him cornered on the roof of a skyscraper or the edge of waterfall, etc and then he'd say a corny quip and blow the guy away. But in this amazing Korean film, the agent finds the killer early on and injures him badly and then says "this is just the beginning" - planting in this killer's mind the fear that he will come back for him - he doesn't know how or when. The psychological aspect of the hunter and the hunted is very powerful and the performances are incredible. One of the best actors of the planet (Min-sik Choi) who was so brilliant as the lead in OLD BOY, is once again, fantastic as the twisted killer. This movie might not be for everyone - the camera never flinches from any brutality and violence. But the under the surface sorrow and pain of the agent carries the emotional wallop that punches the viewer at the very end.
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The Personification of Evil
Claudio Carvalho23 September 2016
When Joo-yeon (San-ha Oh) has a flat tire on the snow, she calls the tow truck to help her and calls her beloved fiancé Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee), who is a secret agent, to kill time. Out of the blue, a man offers to help her and Joo-yeon refuses. But the man breaks her car, abducts her and dismember her body. Her father, who is a retired chief of police, gives the data of the four prime suspects to Soo- hyeon and he asks two week off to his chief. He hunts the men down and when he finds that Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi) is the killer, he promises a dreadful to revenge against the killer to make him suffer as Joo- yeon did. Soo-hyeon becomes a monster and begins a cat-and- mouse game, capturing and releasing Kyung-chul wounded many times. But the serial-killer is the personification of evil and makes Soo-hyeon regret for not killing him when he had the chance.

"Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da", a.k.a. "I Saw the Devil", is a brutal South- Korean thriller with a story of revenge. The plot follows the creepy line of "Seven" and "Silence of the Lambs", but Kyung-chul makes John Doe and Dr. Hannibal Lecter seem to be in the kindergarten of crime. The viewer does not feel the 2h 21min running time of the suspenseful and haunting story. The direction, performances, cinematography, camera work, locations, resuming, everything is top-notch in this film. Fortunately there is no American remake of this film. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Eu Vi o Diabo" ("I Saw the Devil")
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I saw I Saw The Devil.
BA_Harrison22 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
For your common or garden movie avenging angel, a bullet in the head is payback enough; others might go so far as to break out the meat-grinder or flamethrower. Nothing quite so simple for secret agent Dae-hoon, whose plans for revenge take vigilantism to a whole new level: after his pregnant wife is butchered by psycho killer Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), Dae-hoon vows to make the murderer experience ten-thousand-fold the pain suffered by his missus. Taking a fortnight off work, he plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with Kyung-chul, catching the sicko and torturing him, but letting him go afterwards to repeat the process time and time again.

Directed by Ji-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life), I Saw The Devil is quite possibly the most ferocious revenge drama that I have seen. From the initial abduction of Dae-hoon's wife, which involves the poor woman being repeatedly smashed over the head with a hammer, to the shocking climax which sees the emotionally shattered secret agent finally putting a very bloody end to his brutal game, Ji-woon Kim's film is a relentless display of human savagery designed to spark its audience's most primal emotions, something which it succeeds in doing brilliantly.

Min-sik Choi gives Anthony Wong (The Untold Story) and Ben Ng (Red To Kill) a run for their money as the ultimate Asian nutjob, abducting, hacking and slicing his way through a series of victims with relish, and his convincingly demented performance will have viewers right alongside Dae-hoon as he dishes out his special brand of justice, not just to Kyung-chul, but also to a cannibalistic couple who share his passion for killing.

With his film's running time clocking in at well over two hours, director Kim can be accused of spinning things out for a little too long, but with oodles of no-holds-barred gore, and even some sleazy sex thrown in for good measure, there is no denying that this film packs a powerful punch that won't be forgotten in a hurry.
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"Crazy bastards!"
mario_c1 March 2011
I SAW THE DEVIL (English title) is a great story of revenge of a secret agent who pursues a serial killer, after this last one kill his fiancée, in a deadly cat-mouse game.

The story is captivating and the film has a good pace with a constant rhythm from the beginning to the end. Meanwhile we watch some great scenes of gore, with lots of blood but also very well shot. The humor is also present with some great jokes of black humor that are well connected to the plot. In fact is with little details this movie makes the difference, like some scenes where the camera work is great: the stabbing inside the cab is one of them. The actors also do a good job, especially the two who represent the main roles: the agent and the serial killer.

A nice piece of Asian cinema for sure, very well directed and with a strong plot.
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A thrilling violent masterpiece of the Korean Cinematography
Andix CastielFX21 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is not for everyone . If you have heart problems or you just simple hate blood ,Don't watch it . Usually , I don't watch this kind of movies .A Korean movie about an serial killer ? Let's be serious , which one of you would watch this as an unknowing of Korean cinematography ?

But enough of that .Back to the movie.The movie is well-done build .If you're expecting any Hollywood predictable scenes , you're gonna be surprised . The way that the movie was filmed brings a thrill to all the newcomers in Korean cinematography .

The viewer has a lot of close-ups with the main characters as well as the fight between them . The mind-psychological war is build on the damage that the both main characters gets . It's not about who's stronger ,it's about who has a bigger will to destroy the opponent .

The devil is performed by Min-sik Choi which is known for Oldboy and Lady Vengeance . In the other corner we have Byung-hun Lee , known for The Good ,The Bad and The Weird and the Korean drama series Iris ( Ailiseu) . The acting is stunning .From a long time i didn't seen such a well defined expressions of the main characters .The characterization through actions won't mislead you . The devil ,a ' serial killer ' or a 'monster ' acts perfectly for his stereotype : a misfit of the society ,a sick guy degraded to extreme , a vicious single man who lost his faith in humanity .He's the Devil .The one who does bad things without searching for a reason .His opponent is not the good embodied .In fact he's not even the justice as his job is meant to be . He's symbolizing Vengeance,Vengeance taken to extreme .His Will to keep his promise and destroy his wife's assassin is bigger than his will to live and protect the ones he love .A fatal mistake which will be his tombstone .His lack of emotions is showing that he changed .He lost everything : his wife , his life and even more .You may think he lost his human part , but you'll have a surprise in the end .

I really enjoyed watching this movie .Yes ,it's violent .Yes ,it doesn't have a happy ending .If you still believe in fairy tales - don't watch it .This is a blowing-mind movie with two people who swings between madness and killer instinct .
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I saw a bad movie
GoldmundX27 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Many reviewers who give this movie a good rating assume that most critics are put off by the violence and the bloodshed and then proceed to support their appreciation for the movie by explaining that one needs to look through the (apparently necessary) gore and appreciate the deeper layers of the movie. Well, I wasn't necessarily put off by the gore, although I don't appreciate gore for the sake of gore (I don't like the Saw movies). I think Old Boy was an excellent movie for example. That movie went far beyond violence and gore and covered themes like pain, loss and revenge in a wildly original, meaningful way. 'I saw the devil' attempts to do something similar (at least, that is what I assume), but it fails miserably.

The acting is actually quite good, Min-Sik Choi and Byung-Hun Lee are very capable actors, without any doubt. And the story starts off very promising. There's a good build up the first 45 minutes, but after that the story unravels into an inconsistent mess within no time. I deduct that the supposed moral of the story is that revenge cannot heal the inflicted pain, even if you try to live out your revenge in installments. And that in the end revenge backfires and the moral borderline between victim and perpetrator starts to dissolve. Fair enough, I've seen less illuminated morals in movies. But the execution of the idea undermines the whole purpose. A couple of examples:

  • GPS-capsules are solid poop-proof and only flush out with diarrhea? And exactly at what level of mushiness does the capsule decide to go for the exit? These may seem like trivial questions, but are essential to the story development. And mind you, Kimchi tends to be pretty spicy.

  • The first time the serial killer is set loose (temporarily) he happens to catch a ride with two killers (with a dead body in the trunk) - oh, what a coincidence. And of course he kills them, in a moving car. The secret agent discovers the 3 bodies, but somehow this does not convince him that his gamble to keep the serial killer on the loose may harm innocent bystanders (or are we supposed to believe that he knew they were killers and that justice was somehow done, despite the fact that he should know that the killer doesn't just have an appetite for 'guilty' victims as he butchered his fiancée). Many more people end up dead or traumatized because of this gamble. And don't tell me that his hatred and urge for revenge have already completely taken over his rationality and morality at that point - why then proceed 1,5 hours to portray this disintegration?

  • The other cops are supposedly completely incapable and do nothing to stop the carnage. Our cop gone rogue uses his cell phone a number of times to call with the police but they have no way to track him down? Despite the fact that they have GPS capsules with microphones in their arsenal they cannot track down a mobile phone? And even when they meet him at his father in law's house they don't apprehend him? Moreover, when the serial killer decides to surrender to the police, about 50 cops are waiting at the agreed meeting point. Then, our rogue cop comes driving by and while driving pulls the serial killer (waving a knife) into the car and abducts him. And the other cops just stand by, doing nothing. What? All 50 cops came on bicycle or using public transport and cannot pursue a driver who is struggling to subdue a serial killer with a knife while driving?

  • And so on, and so on

I'm willing to accept a (tiny) bit of illogicality, coincidence, inconsistency and even plain stupidity in a movie, but a movie should not be build on that. At least, that is my humble opinion. The rating this movie gets on IMDb shows that most viewers don't agree.
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Extremely stupid and unnecessary long
ivanhoe7916 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER Storyline has no sense at all, nothing in this movie is related to real life situations. Cops in the movie are completely useless, always late and totally uninvolved in happenings. There is no emergency team on crime scene to help the dying victim but bunch of people and cop "puppets". Main story is glorifying the main character, putting storyline aside and making this movie not about killer's victims but about "super hero secret agent" main character. Who is, by the way, stupendously naive. Except it's very bloody and violent, storyline and movie by itself doesn't have any cinematographic value. On top of everything, this movie is more than 2 hours long.

This movie will make you tired and exhausted, leaving you crying from being bored at the end together with the main character. SPOILER END
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I dislike this movie.
jinhoo765328 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I usually don't write reviews on movies, but I felt compelled to write a thing or two about this movie that I disliked immensely. I honestly am having very hard time trying to understand why this movie got such a high rating in IMDb.

First off, The story was very boring and predictable, and protagonist was probably one of the most despicable character I've seen in a revenge flick. It can probably be argued that he has probably done more damage than the serial killer through all the suffering he caused for innocent people. He appeared to show zero remorse for all the trauma he caused innocent victims by letting the killer go every time and seemed to enjoy the suffering he caused around him. At least for me, he had zero redeeming quality and made me want to root for the psycho killer (which I assume was not the director's intention).

Further, Lee byung hun's lack of emotional range can be clearly seen in many crucial scenes as his acting definitely feels forced from the beginning to the end, and there is absolutely no character development for both the protagonist and the killer which I found very disappointing. They were simply one dimensional characters most frequently seen in Hollywood movies. Lee byung hun's dialogue seemed forced at times, and I could not feel a single genuine emotion coming from him in any of the scene.

Not only that, the plot of this movie simply baffled me. Kim Soo Hyeon(Lee byung hun's character) makes many (and I mean many) illogical decisions in the movie. After he let Kyung-chul go for the last time, why would he go to the hospital to ask his brother(?) what Kyung-chul is up to. I would have to assume that he has to be intellectually compromised to not see where this is headed. Kyung-chul pretty much gives it away by saying that he will get his revenge, which have to mean that he is probably headed for someone close to him. Further, why would his brother know where Kyung-chul is headed, and how on earth did he wake up from a brain trauma with few slaps in the face. Further, why on earth would he provoke someone who nearly killed him? None of these actions made sense. I'm assuming that his brother was there for some kind of comic relief , but this was neither amusing nor relevant to the plot. He could have probably stopped Kyung-chul from killing his father in law, if he used his brain for just one second. Further, I'm confused as to how Kim soo hyeon would put his hand in someone's mouth and rip one's mouth open, without getting seriously bit. Even Kyung-chul's action doesn't make much sense as it would be more logical for him to go for Kim soo hyeon's parents instead of his father in law.

Next, how did he retrieve the GPS device after Kyung-chul made a random civilian swallow it in the bathroom(he used the device at the end of the movie so he can hear his family suffer which I find very unnecessary and over-the-top). Am I to believe that Kim soo hyeon actually retrieved it somehow from a civilian's mouth when he was in a hurry to find Kyung- chul (just so he can use it at the end for dramatic effect?)

Also, I hated the part when Kyung-chul's wife was getting killed. I feel terrible for saying this, but making a female victim pregnant is such a hackneyed and clichéd way to make the viewer feel emotional connection with the victim that I honestly found myself laughing through this part.

Fight scenes were also pretty corny and no where near as gritty as many top Korean thrillers I've seen (old boy, chaser...). It was just some pretty-boy doing his very best not to dirty his leather jacket for the most part (again reminiscent of many Hollywood films). Kim soo hyeon honestly seemed to try so hard to preserve his "cool" image that it definitely overshadowed any kind of emotion coming from him.

I could go on and on, but I think I'll just stop here. Aside from few beautiful scenes (especially the beginning sequence when soo hyeon's wife gets dragged away in the snow), this movie was weak in its plots, dialogues, and character developments and had so many flaws. I do not believe this movie deserves the 7.9 rating it has, and, in my honest opinion, this is probably on par with "I spit on your grave."

Also I am not a troll trying to provoke people. I genuinely want to know what most people here sees in this movie.
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The Devil's Seoul
ldnw4414411 December 2010
I Saw The Devil is, in my opinion, not for female eyes - it is gruesome and depicts women as easy prey for the unhinged of male society.

Mens inner demons run riot in this movie, for one man he is intrinsically evil, for another, his actions are brought about by rage and revenge.

The acting of the two main characters is close to perfection, the story-line chilling, with the final scene, the yin to the movie's yang. As a film watcher for forty years this movie creeps into the very small list of ten-out-of-tens. Masterpiece.

Les D
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Will Shock You to the Edge of Your Seat
I challenge you how many times do you have to cover your eyes with your hand during thiz film? The movie is so fertile, it makes "The Last House on the Left" (2009) and "I Spit on Your Grave" (2010) look like plastic trees. The violence level will shock you to the edge of your seat. A secret agent found his fiancée brutally murdered by the hand of a psychopath serial killer. With all the power he has, the agent hunts down the killer and avenge him through the mercilessly pains he could possibly do. The power of thiz movie doesn't come from its story which is predictable but still it leaves you a little twist in the ending, but how the Director describes it so well and brilliantly gritty. The fact is Korea Media Rating Board had forced the Director (Jee-Woon Kim) to cut and edit the violent contents in thiz film. Although after the re-editing, in some scenes it still will mark something in your mind, especially the killing scenes and violence against women. It's not a recommended film for viewers with weak heart. Kim is known for his previous works such as "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003) and "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" (2008). In thiz revenge thriller, the image is colorful with precise lighting and stunning cinematography. The throbbing Score works along harmoniously through every scene. However, the focus of thiz movie undoubtedly is on two main characters. Both bring a depth of emotion in their character developments. As NIS agent, Byung-Hun Lee (who is previously known as Storm Shadow in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" {2009}) gives a resolute and complex character, on one side he performs the vengeance without platitude, and on the other side we could still see his brittle emotion. As the killer, Min-Sik Choi (who is previously known for "Oldboy" in 2003) provides a convincing crazy psychopath character that is not afraid of anything. It's a perfect role for Choi. Nothing will prepare you for some atrocious scenes. In the end, after seeing thiz film entirely, something will make you realize who the real devil is, is it the killer? Or is it the man who takes revenge on him? Since both of them bring unmerciful heat to their actions. Although they come from different direction and motive, finally they meet in the middle anyway, they are the same. It's a good contemplation. Every person has the devil inside them. The difference is how far we can tame it?

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A question to Kim: All this trouble...! Why??
thebathroomsinger14 November 2012
Revenge.. is an easy theme for one to work with and to weave a thrilling story around and Jee-woon Kim makes a confusing contribution with this film - even the name in English makes no sense if u look back! And look back I do with a lot of disappointment at having been led on by the high rating on IMDb! What is wrong with the film-viewing community these days that they give high ratings to any pretentious junk that comes their way?

This film is not the least bit realistic in any way in terms of the situations and the incidents.. it is just too surreal while it attempts to be anything but that! Like just how does the good guy with the pin- up-guy face and boy-band-crew haircut get away so easily from the cops AND the bad guys! And going by the ease with which the 'bad guy' does away with humans, one would think that living in Korea is really dangerous - and young girls dressed in expensive-looking clothes wouldn't wanna be caught dead waiting for a bus in the middle of nowhere - especially after dark!

Its like the script-writer sat with a bunch of his drunk friends discussing women and they went, "..yeah, let's put this girl here in this scene, strip her naked, and then another girl here, get her molested, and another one there and get her raped! Yeah, that's the secret to attracting a large audience!" So at regular intervals - what could have been hinted at, was explicitly displayed, in not anywhere near artistic shots. Purely gross stuff shown to gross u out.. without any emotion involved at all!

Very lackluster performances too.. bah! None of the actors in this film seem really fit for their role and instead look very uncomfortable playing their part and eager to finish the job and move on!

So i'll not waste any more of my (nor your) time with this film and would like to make this review brief, in concluding that besides the casting and the plot, there were just too many flaws in this film in dealing with psychology, physiology, etc. Cheap thrills in shock- sequences and an overly-cold cold-blooded 'bad guy' who is thrown into pointless gory scenes make this film a senseless ordeal!

3 out of 10 for the not-so-terrible music and the bare effort taken by Kim to make this film a 'thriller' with OK cinematography (A tale of 2 sisters - also by Kim - had better visuals). This film is easily avoidable!!
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He saw the devil, good for him... what did I see?
proterozoic29 June 2014
You know what folks, I think I've reached my limit. Eyes Without a Face, Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Oldboy all told fascinating stories with the use of extreme violence, but sadistic violence - especially against women - has become so commonplace that it depresses me.

Shot of a young woman. The murderer approaches. Realization on her face. Abduction. She's raped or tortured as she begs. He kills her. Corpse disposal.

Shot of a young woman. The murderer approaches. Realization on her face. Abduction. She's raped or tortured as she begs. He kills her. Corpse disposal.

Shot of a young woman. The murderer approaches. Realization on her face. Abduction. She's raped or tortured as she begs. He kills her. Corpse disposal.

I disliked this about Luther, an otherwise very fine series. But none of its depictions even approached I Saw the Devil, which is a parade of brutality without end.

I Saw the Devil is the movie you'd make if you thought The Chaser was good because it had shots of a woman's blood spraying the face of the guy who's destroying her skull with a hammer.

Women don't exist in this movie except to be brutalized. Shot of a young woman. ... Corpse disposal. To its credit, the filmmakers cleverly play on expectations by stopping the process halfway once in a while. A young woman may be approached by the murderer, realize she's being abducted, then get raped or tortured without getting killed because he gets interrupted.

People defend this by saying, "these things exist in our world, and movies are brave for showing them!" Actually, no, they don't. Special agents who bug serial killers to play a catch-and-release game? Don't exist. An advanced nation with no visible law enforcement or mass media? Doesn't exist. Let's get this out of the way - this movie doesn't have a whiff of realism. It's an extremely stylized parable that has confused sadism with profundity. If you want to see people get murdered "authentically," go watch a jihadist video.

Shot of a young woman. The murderer approaches. Realization on her face. Abduction. She's raped or tortured as she begs. He kills her. Corpse disposal. And for 2 and a half hours!

Last night I saw The Raid 2, which is another 2 1/2 hours of mutilation and murder. But at least it was a straight-up action movie about a battle between criminals. Watching a psychopath dominating a helpless person and eventually taking their life is an infinitely sicker experience... and there's so much of it in this movie. So much of it.

I've always liked horrors and thrillers. But I Saw the Devil is so drenched in hideousness, that whatever trite moral point it makes about "becoming the monster," it was not worth watching another young woman tortured as she begs for her life, or the dull sound of her meat as the killer butchers her and throws the chunks into a bin.

The characters in this thing may have immersed themselves in barbarism, but we don't have to.
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I Saw the Devil and I Didn't Like What I Saw
popcorninhell13 November 2011
"I Saw the Devil" has got to be one of the most violent, grotesque and masochistic films I have seen in a while. The film is less an experience than it is an endurance exercise for your stomach. Supposedly the point of the film is: revenge is destructive and inherently evil yet it takes great relish in exposing every gory detail of its outlandish story.

The story begins with a young woman waiting on the side of a snowy road for a tow-truck. As she calls her secret agent fiancée Soo-Hyun (Lee Byung-Hun), a mysterious man offers help. What occurs next is an episode of violent assault and brutal murder that never skims on the gory details. After her body, or rather body parts are recovered, Soo-Hyun takes a few weeks out to track down the supposedly elusive killer. Once he catches up to him however, instead of informing the authorities or killing him, he puts a ludicrous master plan in motion that can be best described as a farcical indictment of "catch and release."

The stunning amount of violence and gore especially towards women is repulsive. Instead of letting the audience use its imagination or letting the cameraman use discretion, jugular spurting, tendon slicing and mounds of mutilated body parts are on full display. The victims of such bloodletting are treated so harshly and diminutively that even the survivors are disrespected and discarded like rag-dolls. At one point Soo-Hyun, after beating serial killer Kyung-Chul into submission, tells one of his victims, a nurse "don't leave you'll need to heal his wounds." Excuse me?! I doubt a rape victim would be much inclined to cauterize the wounds of her rapist then leave him in the middle of nowhere to strike again.

Soo-Hyun is so focused on his plan for revenge that he ends up paying a terrible price thus the moral of director Jee-Woon Kim's story; revenge is bad. But how strong is that moral when those interested in watching want to for prurient amusement? When I watched "I Saw the Devil" I did so with a friend. He had a much different reaction. While I was disgusted with the film, he thought the bashing of a victims skull with a pipe was worth a clever comment and breaking a man's jawbone was oddly hilarious. As the credits rolled he claimed I just didn't "get it." A statement that I find oddly hilarious.

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A little too long & a little too repetitive.
to_see_you_smile_again26 April 2011
I am a huge fan of horror/thriller films, but I couldn't quite get my head around this one... Admittedly, I don't watch many foreign horror films. But this film seemed incredibly stretched out. There was a point during the film where I thought to myself, "Oh it must nearly be over." - But no, there was still haf an hour left... I get the whole 'catch and release' idea, but it almost went too far. I found myself feeling somewhere between almost bored and not entertained most of the time. It's just a little too repetitive for my liking. It is a violent movie, so I'd advise anyone who doesn't like violence/blood/gore not to watch it.
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you can't make this acceptable by calling it art
jrwygant5 March 2012
The acting was good, the cinematography was good, the directing was good, but the theme is unremitting glorification of violence, notably brutal violence against women. If this movie had left out the women and the sex, and pitted the bad guy against other men, I suspect we'd find fewer favorable comments here. Being able to overwhelm the viewer with graphic scenes of rape and mutilation does not constitute art. This is porn, no matter how nicely it is dressed up. With regard to the narrative line of this film, it makes little sense, as someone else has already pointed out. Catch and release is good in fishing, not in a serious film.
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Style and Substance Abuse.
Sean Buckley29 April 2012
Director Jee-Woon Kim has had a spotty career to date. His breakout, A Tale Of Two Sisters, was a muted, cruel and often confusing tale. It was a case of style over substance, a film that was to ignite the messages boards rather than the average film goers brain. His follow up however, A Bittersweet Life, was thrilling yarn, taking its ques from the coveted American styled thriller. The film concerns an 'enforcer' who is told to do the one job he wont do, obviously this doesn't make his boss very happy. Like i said we've seen this before but these thrillers set up their premise early and the fun is had watching our main character stumble over the finishing line. With 'I Saw The Devil' there is no such care taken, it sees the director plunge head first into the murky and depraved world of torture porn.

As an audience we should be asking ourselves what the point of given scene or character action is but the violence here is gratuitous and without merit. Even something as shallow as Saw (Darren Lynn Boussman) which arguably ushered in this new fad to the masses, has a (slightly) veiled point, that some people deserve to die because they don't know how to live. In one scene in I Saw The Devil, our 'hero' is told that 'revenge is for the American movies' it would seem then the notion has been processed for all its hyper real absurdity but still the film makers are intent to make us watch the senseless breaking of limbs and bludgeoning. Just while we are on the point of the bludgeoning (of which there are many), why are these characters still alive after 30 blows to the head with a metal pipe? The answer seems to be so we can have a nice little coincidental expository scene or indeed so the person can be tortured further for our (dis)pleasure.

Firstly, the idea of redemption through revenge is one that doesn't sit with me at all. That's not to say i cant have fun watching it, films like Black Rain (Ridley Scott) set up the ensuing redemptive violence with care making the idea of Michael Douglas's impending bloody revenge more appealing. Or take Oldboy for example, with Oldboy, the fun of the revenge is in the complexity of the web spun in its honour. We get nothing here except for the death of his wife (who just happens to be pregnant) and this is surely enough right? Well, no its not. I need to care about the characters first, so i therefore feel for them, if anything further happens to them whether it be directly or indirectly. But that's what the film deals in, actions. Our hero never verbalises his anger, he just acts this leads to a disconnect from him. This fact coupled with the over use of the films killer (Min-Sik Choi) gives the film an uneasy weight toward the dealings of the killer, the film revels in his depravity. Its almost like watching one of the vacuous major horror franchises in which the killer is the main star and the audience come to watch him work. By the end of the movie, i didn't care whether the killer was punished or not, rightly or wrongly. There was nothing holding the movie together, people cried but there is no emotion, this movie is completely soulless. A good juxtaposition to this is The Chaser. The Chaser walks similar lines, we have a depraved serial killer and the man who stop at nothing to exact bloody revenge. The difference here being that the incentive for the hero is not just to kill or maim the bad guy, which is completely uninteresting, our hero learns that there are more important things in the world other than his nihilism. Neither men here have anything real to live for, they are both as bad as each other. Watching as Byung-Hun Lee bludgeons suspected serial killers is not fun, its just wrong.

If you want morally murky then Joe Carnahan' s excellent Narc is a fantastic example of good person doing terrible things, under extreme circumstances. In that film, Ray Liotta goes to illegal lengths to gain a conviction and tough justice on the criminal underworld after his partner dies. We really get a sense of character in the film, and you really get a feel for Liotta's choices, however wrong they might be. So what we end up watching isn't nasty or irrelevant, its heartbreaking.

I honestly couldn't help but be appalled by this movie. I didn't want to be, i don't want to be the killjoy. i saw nothing in this movie that justified its 2hrs 20minute runtime and I'm a person that likes to try and take positives out of negatives. I think that the vast majority that will see this movie will be looking for the torture porn elements or just because they heard how 'bad' it is and for that, they will enjoy it. Those who, like me, were looking for something with abit more meat (forgive the pun), something a little more in the vein of A Bittersweet Life, Oldboy or The Chaser, i would strongly recommend staying away from this tripe.
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