Haiku Revu: I Saw The Devil
06 Apr 2012 - Nic Ho Chee
My haiku review of I Saw The Devil.
Forces immovable nut,
Swift carnage ensues
A serial killer played with the expert rage of Choi Min-sik encounters a lone, snow bound woman on a dark night. After an explosion of violence her fiance, an officer for South Korean Military Intelligence, played by Lee Byung-hun has to pick up the pieces.
The Korean director Kim Ji-woon creates an incredibly brutal and beautifully shot film, showing an intersection between the inhabitants of two worlds of violence, one state sanctioned and the other the result of deep mental psychosis. Over the course of the picture, Lee's character slowly steps across the line into pure criminality as he coldly and painfully ekes out retribution for his lost love. Throughout, Choi appears incapable of redemption as his rampaging madness forms the perfect counterpoint to Lee's cold fury. Any victory for Lee appears pyrrhic at best, but his determination drives the film on.
I was in two minds to watch this, as the trailers smacked of a film which might have crossed the line into torture porn, but after checking out some decent reviews I decided to give it a go. Whilst the film is undoubtably violent, the story, acting, photography and lighting is execellent, setting up dreamlike scenes before pulling you into the action with a visceral bump that forces you to quickly come to terms with what is happening on the screen. Taken as a whole, this is an expertly made film, with detailed performances from the male leads, good pacing from the director and impressive, memorable scenes.
Be prepared for an unflinching South Korean revenge movie, definitely not one for kids, two thumbs up, strongly recommended.