Let me start by saying Koreans are WHACK! I’ve seen a few of their films and yeah…they’re some crazy people. Crazy and brilliant! I Saw the Devil is an emotional journey. An intense story about a psychopathic serial killer and the secret agent that stalks him in order to seek revenge. It is a graphic, gory, unflinching look at a monster which would be almost unbearable to watch, if not for the fact that it is, at its core, a sad tale of loss. How far is someone willing to go for justice? Or Vengeance?
The killer is perfectly played by Min-sik Choi (also famously in Oldboy–another Korean classic). Min-sik is very convincing as a soulless monster–it gave me the willies. Byung-hun Lee plays his counter–the secret agent who places his own soul in jeopardy in his pursuit of revenge for the death of his finance. Byung-hun is quiet and stoic which makes his descent into darkness all the more disturbing and sad.
If you have a strong stomach and do not mind delving into dark side of the human psyche, you will appreciate what director Jee-woon Kim has accomplished. He has taken what could be a straight shock-horror film and has created a melancholic portrait of grief. I could not take my eyes off the screen, but was exhausted by the end. WHEW!