Spotlight on Asian Horror presents I Saw the Devil

I-Saw-the-Devil

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Softbank Ventures

Director: Jee-Woon Kim

Review Rating: 8

A Korean secret agent finds out just how far over the line he’ll go for revenge after his pregnant fiancé is murdered by an evil serial killer.

As one can imagine from the plot synopsis, this film is barely about the bad guy at all. Rather, it brings back that age-old admonition, he who hunts monsters should take care that in doing so, he does not become a monster himself.

Our secret agent, Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee of G.I. Joe and Three Extremes fame) is the Man. The film starts right in with his fiancé getting kidnapped and slaughtered in the most unmerciful manner one can imagine, though the movie does make it seem as though she isn’t raped. Kim, being the Man he is, ignores the pleading of his boss and coworkers and immediately launches into an investigation of the four men possible who could’ve done this dastardly deed. Upon the discovery of the totally psychotic bad guy who did it, Kyung-chul (Min-Sik Choi of Oldboy status), one would think Kim would hunt him down and murder him terribly and that would be the end of it. Oh my no. Kim gets ahold of a micro-tracker from another secret agent, does indeed hunt down Kyung while he’s in the midst of yet another attack on some young schoolgirl, beats the ever-loving snot out of the guy and stops the rape, rams the tracker down his gullet, and then, lets him go. Thus begins the most badass game of cat and rat I’ve seen in some time. Kim delights in following Kyung all over, stopping instances of where the psycho would harm some woman, giving him some terrible wound (hamstring anyone?), and letting him go all over again, to rinse and repeat. The people that Kyung goes to and the things he does, marks him in my eyes as considerably worse than the righteously raging secret agent gone really rogue. Unfortunately the bad guy figures out about the tracker and has this reputation for going after a victims entire family and friends for the final showdown, before turning himself in to the police as the final F-youuuu to Kim. None of this, not the deaths of his beloved woman, friends, coworkers, and even his own sanity, will stop the Man from getting his final revenge. And the manner in which he does it is deliciously rife with irony, to the last blood drop.

Many criticized this movie for, once again, the purported Hero going way too far in his pursuit of the bad guy and righteous vengeance. I fail to understand how they can say that. But then again, Korean Horror is still almost always very tragic and mind-rending at the end, even if you survive the slaughter. I Saw the Devil is thought-provoking, astounding, and makes us all wonder, if we were in that situation, would the Devil be in a mirror?

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