January 13, 2011

Review: I Saw the Devil (2011)

"South Korea has just given us one of the best Serial Killer movies of all time."

Cast Members of Note- Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi.

Kyung is a creepy bastard. He like to rape and murder women (and maybe men or dogs for all we know) in sick, twisted, and creative ways. When they beg for mercy, he bitch slaps them and yells "You no talk!" When they talk again, he kills them real good. For the record, I would not talk if he told me not to. Then again, I find it hard to talk through tears.

Oldboy is not to be trifled with.
Ju-yeon is a hot Korean chick who can't change a flat tire, which apparently is an offense punishable by death in Korea. I'm pretty sure that's what drove Kyung to torture and kill her. Or... it could be that he's just a really sick twist, and he was bored. Either way, killing is his business, and business is good.

"You no learn change tire, you die!"
Dae-hoon is the Secret Agent who is engaged to Ju-yeon. When she is killed, he takes a week off of work to go bat-shit crazy, find Kyung, and visit on him 10,000 times the pain he inflicted on his true love. He promises her ghost that at her funeral, so he has to follow through. And, he does. Although to be fair, 10,000 times any amount of violence is pretty much an impossible goal, though it's a nice sentiment.

Look out Dae-hoon, that tricky bitch is behind you!
And so Dae-hoon chases Kyung across Korea, messing with his head, torturing him at will, and teaching him a lesson in revenge! Will Dae-hoon ever kill Kyung? Will Kyung instead kill Dae-hoon? Will innocent people die when they don't have to, all to teach Dae-hoon that revenge has a high price? I don't know about all of that, but let me say that even in Korea it's important to never poke the bear. Bears don't like that.

Even in a wheelchair, this bear is scary.
I think it's fair to say that I Saw the Devil is the best Serial Killer movie we've seen since Se7en. We see them all too, because there's something about a good Hero vs. Serial Killer drama that just tickles our Horror bones. This one tickled us so much that we peed a little. Figuratively, of course.

This movie has a level of tension that is palpable, and combined with brutal violence, compelling characters brought to life by a great cast, and some pretty sharp directing by Kim Ji-woon, it sucked us in instantly and never let us go. South Korea is putting out some great films these days, and even if they are on the bloody side of things sometimes, they shouldn't be missed.

It's great to see Min-sik Choi back in front of the camera again in a major role since his self imposed exile from film (he's political or something.) He is brilliantly intense as Kyung, so much so that he scared us a little bit with his portrayal. If you're unfamiliar with his previous work, you need to check out Oldboy; revenge movies don't get much better than that. And it has to be said that Byung- hun Lee was great as Dae-Hoon as well.

In all honesty, as amazing as this movie was, it could have withstood about 10 or so minutes of exposition trimmed off to make it leaner and meaner. That's not to say that it's boring or slow, just that it could have been that much more effective with a cut here or there.

Not his scenes though.
Character aesthetics aside, why not just kill the ruthless killer when you have the chance? I mean, why toy with the guy? I understand that Dae-Hoon went off of the deep end and wanted to make Kyung suffer, but letting him go over and over again only to catch him and inflict more pain each time is like trying to make out with a cobra... you just know it can't end well.

"You kiss cobra, you get fang in lip!"
Between the sadistic Serial Killer and the equally sadistic hero of the movie, we are offered a wet, messy plethora of violence and gore; ankle violence, some beheading, multiple stabbings... it's plenty gory.

There's nothing not creepy about that.
We get one sex scene that is fairly graphic, a near-rape, and assorted glimpses of girls in various stages of undress, though none of it lasts too long.

"Hey Retard, who hit your penis?"

Revenge is best served quickly. Also, South Korea makes some crazy good movies.

Be quick about your revenge, dude.
I Saw the Devil is about as close to perfect as a Horror-Thriller flick can get. Not since Se7en has a movie about a Serial Killer been so engrossing and well executed, with a storyline that not only shocks but keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. With A Tale of Two Sisters, Three Extremes II, The Good, the Bad, & the Weird, and now I Saw The Devil under his belt, Ji-woon Kim has become a director whose work I covet. You should too. This movie is aces.



She's in this. You're welcome.


  1. Generally I consider Asian films over-rated particular within the horror genre. They seem to be 'elevated' by the sheer fact that they are foreign. Spanish, French and British films are superior (at least recently) in my opinion.

    Ji-woon Kim is without a doubt the exception though. Good the bad and the weird is also an excellent film.

  2. I have to agree with you Anon that the British, Spanish and French offerings of late have been great overall.

    As far as Asian film in general goes, yes it gets blown up a bit, but there are some good to balance out the overrated.

  3. Keep up the good work! Loving the new look of the site.

  4. Wow first The Chaser now this. You guys should definitely review that flick as well.

  5. Nice review - truly a stunning movie that everyone must see!

  6. Stunning indeed, Head. Spread the good word about it!

  7. Where the fuck did you get the name 'Dae hoon"? His name is Soo-Hyun you idiot! and Who the fuck are these ugly whores in the end anyway?

    I thought your review was funny and witty until I hit " hot Korean chick" " that's unnecessary and disgusting. She's dumb and plain looking female anyway.

    1. In the version we saw back in 2010, his name was Dae-Hoon according to the subtitles. Apparently, that was the case for many people, as evidenced by Google. Whether it was a mistake with the subtitles, or it was changed, who knows.

      That's where the fuck I got the name from, sparky.