Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil (2010)
Genre: Thriller
Format: Netflix HD Stream
Director: Kim Ji-woon

If you are looking for a revenge thriller than involves extreme violence, you should look no further than I Saw the Devil. This South Korean movie may lavishes itself in unrealistic scenarios of über carnage, taking away what could have been something a bit more cohesive, but with an unexpected plot development that will have you scratching your head and flinching your eyes, it makes for an entertaining ride into a dark world filled with murder and mayhem.

A serial killer made a horrible mistake when he brutally murdered a woman who just happened to be the engaged to a special agent who in turn decided to give the killer a taste of some pure vigilante justice. The utterly heinous killer is a repulsive scumbag who you probably want to eliminate with your own bare hands but what is interesting about this movie is that the special agent, Soo-hyun, decided to prolong the pain and suffering that he wanted to inflict upon the killer and this resulted in situations of destructive chaos for both himself and the killer. The movie likes to remind the audience that Soo-hyun has turned into a monster to rid of a monster but it didn't need to do that because it was so very obvious. At the beginning of the movie you will see that he's a soft-spoken man and a romantic, loving fiancé but as the situation with the serial killer escalates, all that training he got to become a special agent quickly turned him into a surgically precise, unfathomably cold, and relentless fighting machine.

As gory as this movie is, the brutal killings of the innocents are done off-screen. Apparently, the violence acts that you do get to witness on screen are being justified. This bias approach creates inconsistency and detachment when analyzing the movie as a whole. Sometimes, the most disturbing cinematic deaths do come from off-screen kills but that is not the case here. The fact that you get to see the extremely bloody, frenzied violence that occur to the unsavory characters completely  takes away any hint of savagery that was done on the innocents. Since the main motif here is the completion of a long, merciless, and meticulously planned revenge plot, it would have been good to capitalize on Soo-hyun's emotion. Though the ending seemed appropriate, it was also questionable whether to classify it as a success or failure for both of the opposing characters. What should have been explosively cathartic was just reduced to shockingly amusing but with such an overwrought plot, I should not have expected better.

I Saw the Devil may be void of any real payoff to the rough adventure that it puts you through but is still a fascinating movie to watch if you can stomach all the nasty blood and gore. There is hardly any dull moment as you are presented with one sadistic scene to the next. This one is only savage in its visuals but if you want something that can also ravage your emotion, try Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance instead.

RATING: 3 out of 5

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