In a movie clip from “I Saw the Devil” a young woman calls her fiancé to tell him that she’s stranded in her car and that it’s romantic to be talking to him while it’s snowing. What the fiancé then hears is blood curdling. The guy who pulled over to “help” her is a serial killer. Director Kim Jee-woon tells a terrible tale of murder and the revenge that follows. Only those who enjoy horror to the extreme are going to be able to stomach this South Korean new movie release that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s too bad because, besides the gore, there is a lot good about this upcoming movie. If “I Saw the Devil” could pull in a slightly larger audience, the box office would really do well.
The fiancé is Soo-hyun, played by Lee Byung-hyun, a South Korean special agent. When he decides to revenge Ju-yeon’s death, (Ju-yeon is played by Oh San-ha), he’s better able than the average Joe to do so. He quickly finds a suspect, Kyung-chul, played by Choi Min-silk, who was recently seen in
“Old Boy.” And Soo-hyun doesn’t just want revenge, he wants his victim to suffer as much as the killer’s victims have suffered. Soo-hyun decides to do it at his own pace, even though it’s possible that the killer may get a few more victims in the meantime.
It seems, in the new movie, “I Saw the Devil,” that Korea must be just overflowing with serial killers. But Kyung-chul is different. He uses lots of different ways to kill off his victims. And he has an odd personality for a serial killer – he’s cranky and is easily offended. His nasty temper probably is as much of a cause of his crimes as his psychiatric disorder.
Soo-hyun is his opposite. He’s quiet and does not grieve openly. Soo-hyum doesn’t realize that in his cold-blooded hunt for the devil, that he is becoming more like the devil himself.
Lee Mogae, cinematographer, makes the country of South Korea look gorgeous in this movie picture and in sharp contrast to the horror of the murders. If not for the grieving of those who are left, the horror and violence of this film might make it just that – nothing but a violent horror film. Soo-hyun suffers in silence. But Ju-yeon also left a sister named Se-yeon, who’s played by Kim Yoon-seo, and her father, Jang, played by Chun Kook-haun. He’s retired from the police force. There are lots of deaths in this movie but it’s the first one that the viewer feels throughout the entire movie. Soo-hyun’s plan makes the nightmare even worse, but in his world, where the devil stalks innocent people, it seems understandable.
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Billie Holiday – That Ole Devil Called Love (Decca Records 1944)