We all love a revenge film… what’s more satisfying than someone who’s been scorned and gets back at those who did them wrong? From Bring It On to Gone Girl, they come in all shapes and sizes, with I Saw The Devil being a horrifyingly beautiful example of the genre. Although it’s not for everyone as it features extreme graphic violence and gore, those who can stomach it will be rewarded with a film that deserves a place among the best films of the 21st century.
The film tells the story in operatic fashion of a secret agent (Lee Byung-Hun) enacting revenge on a serial killer (Choi Min-Sik). It’s skillfully directed by famed Korean auteur Kim Jee-Woon who takes what we know about the genre and goes far beyond it, provoking yourself to ask how far would you go? Would you seek out and enact revenge on someone who had taken the person(s) closest to you?
What is most terrifying about this film is not its haunting imagery that shakes your soul and the electrifying performances by Lee Byung-Hun and Choi Min-Sik, but rather that tension that permeates throughout the film. For its 2 hour 23 minute runtime, you are biting your fingernails and hiding behind your seat as it ramps up to its climax, which is shocking in its brutal efficiency. After it’s all said and done, you’ll need a few moments to breathe and maybe some chamomile tea but having seen what is one of the best films of its kind, you’ll be glad you survived the ordeal that is Kim Jee-woon’s masterpiece: I Saw The Devil.
Academy’s Korean New Wave Festival will play from the 22nd of May to the 4th of June. Check out I Saw The Devil on the 4th of June!