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Director: Jee-woon Kim (The Good, the Bad, the Weird)
Starring: Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe), Min-sik Choi (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance), Gook-hwan Jeon
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller, Foreign
Run Time: 141 minutes
Ratings: IMDB – 7.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes - 81%, Netflix – 4/5
Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) is a government agent that hunts down the murderer of his finance. Sounds pretty , right? WRONG! DEAD. FUCKING. WRONG. The killer, Kyung-chul (Min-Sik Choi), isn’t you’re typical serial killer, he is the personification of evil and is truly a terrifying bad guy. Soo-hyeon doesn’t just hunt Kyung-chul down, he makes it his prime concern to physically and mentally tortures Kyung-chul every step of the way. After a few twists and turns (and a few dozen blows to the head), the line between right and wrong becomes blurred as Soo-hyeon takes his tour of revenge to the brink.
Let me preface this review by saying that I’m into the new wave of South Korean revenge flicks, not in a fetish kind of way but more along the lines that I think it’s some good shit. Now, I’m not one of those pretentious assholes that thinks Hollywood movies suck nowadays (more movies are being made which means more movies will suck) but South Korea and the rest of East Asia has been kicking out some quality stuff and Hollywood should take some notes (to be fair, Hollywood has taken notice seeing as how they’re “remaking” a lot of Asian films i.e. Oldboy, Infernal Affairs (The Departed)(yes, I am using parentheses inside parenthesis)). On to the review.
Falling inline with other great S. Korean revenge films (Oldboy, Sympathy Trilogy, The Chaser), I Saw The Devil sports plenty uncomfortable scenes involving rape, revenge, torture, blood, gore, mutilation and strange cuisine. Kim takes you on a emotional rollercoaster of sadness, sympathy, anger, fear, nausea and regret. At 144 minutes, it’s a long movie no matter how you slice it but it’s the kind of film that’ll keep you enthralled from start to finish. It’s Memento meets Saw, and I mean that in every sense. It’s a unique plot with strong characters and a good amount of violence to drive the message home, and trust me, you won’t forget the message (pro tip: don’t murder the fiancée of a secret agent or he will make your life as close to living hell as possible).
The better the bad guy (acting and characterwise) the better the movie. Colonal Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds), Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman, Die Hard), Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List), John Doe (Kevin Spacey, Se7en), Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, No Country of Old Men), Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day- Lewis, Gangs of New York), Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin), etc. Min Sik-choi does an awesome job of making Kyung-chul one of the most terrifying bad guys you’ll come across and I consider him to be on the same level as the baddies listed above. Interesting fact, Min Sik-choi is considered to be the Tom Hanks of South Korea (I might have read that somewhere but I also might have made that up). Opposite Min Sik is Byung-hun Lee playing the protagonist Kim Soo-hyeon. Lee does pull his weight and is able to make the viewer feel the emotion of his character throughout the movie. Interesting fact, Lee is considered to be the Brad Pitt of South Korea (yeah, I just made that up but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true).
All in all this is a pretty excellent movie and definitely worth your time. If you’re the kind of person that isn’t into foreign films because you lack culture and sophistication and/or you’re illiterate (boom, you’ve just been insulted), I suggest you give this one a shot. The story, acting and directing are top notch. I also heard that they’re doing a Hollywood remake so you can tell all your friends that you liked the movie before it hit the big time. Everyone will think you’re the coolest.
1 to Awesome:
‘Totally Awesome’, nuff’ said.