Viewport width =
October 2, 2011 | by  | in Arts Film |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

I SAW THE DEVIL

Over the last few years, South Korea has proven itself incredibly adept at producing films of intense, visceral violence. Park Chan-wook, Na Hong-jin, Lee Jeong-beom and Kim Ki-duk have all made their names producing stylish, brutal dramas and thrillers and some of the most successful Korean exports have been unflinching in their presentation of extreme violence. So it’s no mean feat that Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil leaves all of these films in the dust when it comes to how relentlessly graphic it can get. Kim’s latest is a bloody, gripping journey through a hellish landscape where serial killers lurk around every corner and even the most moral man can become a monster. It’s also the best film of the year.

Working with Park Hoon-jung’s relentless, perpetually-escalating script, Kim captures a world that’s more waking nightmare than reality. The Korea in which avenging angel Kim Soo-hyeon (Lee Byung-hun) and sadistic murderer Park Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) play their vicious game of cat-and-mouse is claustrophobic and terrifying. Walls are caked with nauseatingly vivid colours and kitchens have more in common with torture chambers; outside, the oppressive darkness looms over those safe in their bubbles of light and snow. The brief third act shift to more naturalistic architecture and design is a masterstroke, carrying all of the violence and horror we’ve experienced for two hours into a world frighteningly close to our own.

I Saw the Devil’s immaculate production design, nerve-testing script and perfect central performances from Lee and Choi (again proving themselves two of the best actors working today) feed into the film’s greatest triumph—the ethical questions it asks of an audience that eagerly partakes in a cultural climate that demonises the other without truly understanding them (see Taken). While Soo-hyeon is initially easy to root for, his Neeson-esque resolve and good looks hide a darkness just as repulsive as the flabby, snarky Kyung-chul’s. The frenzy in Soo-hyeon’s eyes as he pursues and taunts his wife’s harried killer betrays his repeated moral justifications; his violent behaviour, deployed in the name of justice, is just as horrific and hollow as that of his quarry. Other films test your willingness to go along with a protagonist’s course of action, but none as effectively as this—I Saw the Devil is not only an astounding piece of craftsmanship but a truly riveting interrogation of what we consider ‘justice’.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments (2)

Trackback URL / Comments RSS Feed

  1. Daisy says:

    Weeeee, what a quick and easy soluiton.

  2. Davion says:

    I bow down humbly in the pesrence of such greatness.

Recent posts

  1. VUWSA Responds to Provost’s Mid-Year Assessment Changes
  2. Te Papa’s Squid is Back and Better Than Ever
  3. Draft Sexual Harassment Policy Consultation Seeing Mixed Responses
  4. Vigil Held For Victims of Sri Lankan Easter Sunday Attacks
  5. Whakahokia te reo mai i te mata o te pene, ki te mata o te arero – Te Wharehuia Milroy Dies Aged 81
  6. Eye on the Exec – 20/05
  7. Critic to Launch Hostile Takeover of BuzzFeed
  8. Issue 10 – Like and Subscribe
  9. An Overdue Lesson in Anatomy
  10. Astral Rejection

Editor's Pick

Burnt Honey

: First tutorial of the year. When I open the door, I underestimate my strength, thinking it to be all used up in my journey here. It swings open violently and I trip into the room where awkward gazes greet me. Frozen, my legs are lead and I’m stuck on display for too long. My ov