Directed by Ji-woon Kim
Distributed by Magnet Releasing
Let’s get this out there right off the bat … usually tales of revenge, especially foreign tales of revenge, serve no other purpose other than to bore me. They just all feel the same and follow an exact blueprint: Something horrible happens to someone. A loved one of said someone goes bat-shit and embarks upon a killing spree. In the process the person taking revenge becomes no better than the killer they were after. Everyone’s life goes to shit. Roll credits.
Hell, I even disliked Oldboy and that’s sacrilege to some. Still, despite the hype and it not being my cup of tea, I went into I Saw the Devil with as much of a blank slate as possible. In the end I’ve never been happier to have an open mind as I Saw the Devil ROCKS!
Editor’s Note: There are two versions of I Saw the Devil available – the longer original Korean cut and the shorter international cut presented here. After doing a bit of research, the differences seem to be minimal with some scenes rearranged and a couple of longer sequences of violence. The only glaring omission is a two-minute long sex scene, which you’ll find here in the deleted scenes. Don’t get too disappointed, though, as according to the director the cut included here is the one that he prefers.
After his pregnant fiancée, Joo-yeon (San-ha Oh), is violently battered and killed by a veritable monster, played by Oldboy himself, Min-sik Choi, Korean agent Soo-hyeon Kim (Byung-hun Lee) heads out to bring the villain who committed this heinous crime to justice. His own personal bone-crunching justice. Yet, Kim isn’t satisfied with just killing his monstrous foe. He wants to hurt him mentally as well as physically, and he does so in a way that will have you both cheering and shocked by the spectacle of it all. That’s all you’re getting story-wise. You really need to see this unfold for yourself.
Ji-woon Kim masterfully creates a tone and look for I Saw the Devil by implementing ingenious shot set-ups coupled with an eye-popping color palette. It’s hard not to fall in love from the very first frame. The acting couldn’t have been better as both leads are white hot in their roles, and the bloody effects work will surely sate the appetites of the gorehounds out there. Yes, we’ve seen this kind of tale told countless times before, but I can assure you never, ever like this. The only thing that keeps it from nailing down a perfect five out of five are a couple of pacing issues that slow down the usually brisk proceedings.
While the DVD holds its own, on Blu-ray I Saw the Devil looks and sounds nothing short of stunning! Rarely will you see a film that looks better than this in 1080p. Black levels are spot on, skin tones are absolutely natural, the colors are as deep as they are vibrant, and there’s no compression problems to be found anywhere. Couple this with razor-sharp image detail, and we have a complete winner.
In terms of audio there are an English dubbed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and the original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Korean mix to choose from. If you’re one of those “I don’t like reading a movie” people, just stop right now as the dub doesn’t do ANY of the actors justice in terms of performance. Save that for the Godzilla flicks please. Either way this is pure ear candy, and both tracks serve only to beautifully accentuate the visual proceedings.
The only place the ball is dropped here is in the special features, of which there aren’t many. The twenty-seven-minute Raw and Rough: Behind-the-Scenes of I Saw the Devil featurette is a winner in terms of quality as it’s riddled with truly interesting interviews and stellar behind-the-scenes stuff including a look at the film’s many fight scenes. From there we get almost a half-hour of deleted scenes that are home to most of the omitted things from the aforementioned Korean cut and that’s it. Sadly, we’re done.
I Saw the Devil dishes out just about every single thing we watch movies for. Suspense, action, and deliciously gory elements of horror that will have you squirming in your seats. Highly recommended. One HELL of a film! Do not hesitate, dearest reader. See this like yesterday.
4 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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