CinemaCl❄️wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Brutally intense, downright shocking, relentlessly violent & absolutely unforgiving, I Saw the Devil is an emotionally devastating story of loss & revenge that is extremely well executed on the film canvas and finds renowned filmmaker Kim Jee-woon reveling at the very top of his game in what is his third consecutive masterpiece after A Bittersweet Life & The Good, the Bad, the Weird.
I Saw the Devil begins by introducing us to a merciless serial killer who is later tortured by one of his victims' fiancé, who in the process of seeking revenge starts becoming the very person he hates most & thus begins the diminishing of the fine line between good & evil as well as victim & aggressor among both the characters and the observation of this very element is the film's core ingredient.
Where the director impresses the most here is in trying to push the film beyond the confines of its genre while keeping the drama, action & violence smoothly balanced & undisturbed. Brilliantly written, neatly photographed, cleverly edited, intensely scored and featuring equally memorable performances from Choi Min-sik & Lee Byung-hun, it is an expertly executed genre fare that puts more emphasis on plot & characters than tasteless gore.
On an overall scale, Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil may not be as shocking a revenge-thriller as Oldboy but it sure is more aggressive & relentless than Park Chan-wook's classic. Definitely not for the easily distressed as it features moments involving rape, mutilation, disemboweling & even cannibalism in it. So do make sure if you can digest all that before you hit the play button.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest films of the past decade and inarguably one of world cinema's finest examples of its genre, I Saw the Devil continues to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in mainstream cinema and is one revenge flick no film lover should miss out. Very highly recommended.