In light of the news that there is a remake in the works, here @TigersMS78 takes a look at the original Korean revenge masterpiece...
Whenever a film causes you to be concerned about what the hero of the film is going to do to the villain, you know you have stumbled onto something special. I Saw The Devil will take everything you have seen and know about revenge films and subvert them.
A quick breakdown of the story - Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure, he is a serial killer that has claimed many victims. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. When Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) finance is brutally murdered, Soo-hyun a top secret agent, use all of his skills to track down the killer with only one thing on his mind - Revenge.
That quick description cannot begin to encapsulate the absolute masterpiece that is this film. Amazing performances from each of the main characters, most notable Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun punctuate this film, Min-sik's psycho is calm and calculating whilst Byung-hun is just as good as the grieving fiance driven by revenge.
Director Jee-woon Kim does a great job framing each set piece, the moving taxi stabbing frenzy is a real highlight, fast, frenetic but yet it almost has a ballet feel about it...albeit a ballet with knives and blood, however it is the quieter moments that Kim really makes his own, drawing you into the story emotionally, so the violence is all the more jarring.
With a lot of revenge flicks, you get the revenge but nothing else. I Saw The Devil gives you the revenge but with emotion and context, it gives you the story seen a hundred times where the 'good guy' has to become a 'bad guy' to exact his revenge, yet it gives it to you with all of the problems that one might expect if you were planning to go down this road. It plays with the notion that revenge makes you feel you have righted a wrong, when all through the film, every act of revenge is met with a counter shot, be it an opposite physical reaction or an emotional one - proving that the best revenge is none at all.
I Saw The Devil is not only one of the best revenge films I have ever seen but one the best films I have seen. The violence is unflinching and brutal, the acting superb, it has moments of humour and moments of horror and an absolutely perfect ending. Don't be put off by the subtitles, as this is WAY better than anything similar that Hollywood has dished up in the past few years.