Movie Review: I Saw the Devil (2010)

Hello there, my friends, I hope you’re having a most spooktacular day. Anyhow, what’s on the Month of Spooks menu today then? Korean stuff? Haven’t done that for MoS yet… how exciting!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “I Saw the Devil”.

When his fiancée is brutally killed by a vicious and perverted killer (Min-sik Choi), special agent Soo-hyeon Kim will go on a crusade to get revenge. “I Saw the Devil” is an almost non-stop ride of darkness, depravity, and turning my stomach inside out. It’s a morally grey revenge story where you understand why the protagonist does what he does, even if you find yourself questioning his methods. It’s an interesting spin on the familiar serial killer/cat and mouse game stuff that balances dark, morally grey, and disturbing drama with unflinching and brutal violence. It’s hard to describe the narrative without giving stuff away, so I’ll just end this section by saying that I thought the story here was great.

The characters in this are all fucked in the head in one way or another. I know that sounds like a weird generalization in some way, but it’s true. They are all messed up in some way, and the movie explores that in really fascinating ways, which makes all of them quite interesting. What also helps make them compelling are the performances, in particular from our two leads. Byung-hun Lee is brilliant as our protagonist, and Min-sik Choi is delightfully icky as the serial killer. They make for a great pairing in this. We also get some really solid supporting work from people like Gook-hwan Jeon, Ho-jin Chun, In-seo Kim, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by a man known as Mowg, and I think he did a great job with it. Most of it is used to help build this kinetic intensity, which really helps add to the frenetic pace of the movie. But there are also slower, more moody track that build ambiance and emotion when the movie does decide to slow down a little. It’s a solid score that works really well for the movie.

“I Saw the Devil” was directed by Jee-woon Kim, and I think he did a great job. His direction is intense and unflinching, never shying away from showing brutal, bloody, or outright disgusting things… but rarely does it feel gratuitous in that sense. I don’t know how to explain it, but it handles all this stuff in a way where you do see a lot, but it never goes overboard. Anyhow, I especially think his direction shines in the more action-heavy scenes, with the intensity and energy of those bits crackling in a way I don’t see much of in a lot of other movies. And on one final note, you’ve probably figured it out already if you’ve read this, but there’s quite a lot of disturbing content in this. So if you have a weak stomach or you’re in general just very squeamish and easily triggered by graphic content… you’ve been warned.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

“I Saw the Devil” is a brutal and unflinching thriller that I highly recommend. It has a great plot, really interesting characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “I Saw the Devil” is a 9.67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “I Saw the Devil” is now completed.

See no devil, hear no devil, speak no… devil? No, that doesn’t work…

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4 thoughts on “Movie Review: I Saw the Devil (2010)

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