I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil ★★★★★

| GHOSTOBER Cycle - Film 10 of 40 | 🎃
From: Horror Films Watchlist

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«Don’t act so weak. This is just the beginning. Remember… your nightmare’s only getting worse.»

Revenge, sweet revenge… is it? Just as Oldboy was in its time, Kim Jee-woon's masterpiece serves as a chess game with gore tints, where the two players are psychopathic maniacs whose only purpose is to get even with each other, but only one could be the winner of such brutal game. 

Sun-woo against Oh Dae-su; Lee Byung-hun against Choi Min-sik, or in this film, Kim Soo-hyeon facing Jang Kyung-chul. Mentally unstable Kyung-chul goes for a ride at night to kidnap women, he takes them to his hidden place, abuses and murders them. The night he decided to murder Kim's pregnant wife was the day he sold his soul for a ticket to hell, not after playing a macabre game against a man thirsty of revenge. 

If I’ve learned something from Kim Jee-woon, is that his direction is brilliantly headed towards intensity and excellently choreographed encounters. I Saw the Devil unfolds a horror out of gore and disturbance; Choi Min-sik is not onscreen performing a psycho murder, instead the Devil himself. If raping wasn’t sick and disgusting enough, this is a character who takes everything to the limit, and the camera will not let us take a deep breath before starting to observe his devilish acts. On the other hand, Kim Soo-hyeon plays but not to be the hero, instead a punisher. He swore his deceased wife he’d make the killer pay for his sins, later on we see how things turn in a satisfying fun hunt. 

A haunting atmosphere wraps the city where the story takes place, we are witnesses of Kim's constant travel to give Jang the beating of his life in different scenarios. As in A Bittersweet Life, Lee Byung-hun executes stunning fight sequences which in this film are taken into another level of thrill, fairly enough, this is a regular bodyguard versus the personification of Devil with no fear and no regrets. Encounter after encounter, gore levels raise to the point where there is no way to discern whether what you are watching is real or just looks horrifyingly real. 

What’s the thing I love the most about Korean cinema? Plot twists. Is I Saw the Devil's plot twist something you’d expect to be masterful? Indeed. After the end of the second act, nothing remains the same anymore, it is hard to keep following Kim after everything he has gone through, is Jang going to win the game? The rawness of the finale is the cherry on top to tag this work as a masterpiece.

I Saw the Devil crudely amazes due to Kim Jee woon's direction. Exploring the psychology of a madman, this film delves into the consequences of abusing and being consumed by vengeance, not before it shows us an insane confrontation between two first-class actors. Peak South Korean kino, the kind of film that constantly reminds me why I love cinema. 

Previous nightmare: Get Out
Next nightmare: The Thing

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