Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
I Saw the Devil
A young woman with a flat tire is approached by a stranger who offers to help her, but she tells him she has already called a tow truck and that won’t be necessary. But some people can’t take no for an answer. The man breaks into the car and takes her against her will.
The woman’s fiance, Kim Soo-hyeon (Lee Byung-hun) and her policeman father Chief Jang (Jeon Good-Hwan) search frantically for her, to no avail. Her dismembered body is discovered, and no clue as to the killer. Soo-hyeon takes two weeks’ leave from his job, determined to find the killer. The police have a short list of potential suspects, and Jang procures the police files for Kim (whose actual job is secret agent). Kim is determined to find the killer, and starts to go through the list.
Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a serial killer, and this is far from his first victim. He enjoys
inflicting pain in whatever way he can, and has a guillotine set up in his torture chamber at home. He has a job driving young women in a school van. Kim is just one step behind him at the school, after he has gone to take a group of girls home. Realizing he’s been fired, Kyung-chul takes one of the girls hostage in a greenhouse, but Soo-hyeon catches him in time, and inflicts a great deal of pain on him… before letting him go. But not until he forces him to swallow a transmitter/homing device he procured from a sympathetic friend on the police force.
Now begins the cat and mouse game. Soo-heyon tracks the psycho killer, catches him in the act, inflicts more pain and lets him go. How long can he keep this up before something goes horribly wrong?
I Saw the Devil is a Korean film by director Jee-woon Kim. While it is certainly a horror film, there is a lot more going on here than that. Questions are raised regarding justice and revenge. Where does one end and the other begin? Are they the same or are they diametrically opposed? Right and wrong, good and evil. The serial killer is well played and well written. He is undoubtedly sick (and so is his cannibal friend he hides out with for a short while), but he isn’t necessarily your stereotypical villain. The hero has undoubtedly good motives for what he does, but is he allowing himself to become the monster he seeks? You might remember Lee Byung-hun as the Front Man in The Squid Game.
I enjoyed everything about this film, from the writing to the acting to the direction and the cinematography. Warning – this is not for the squeamish. The pacing was just right too, and all in all a very satisfactory movie. I highly recommend it, and I give it 5 Stars.