I saw the Devil [2010]

A woman gets murdered. Her husband seeks the killer.

There is nothing more I can say about this film that will not lessen some of its affect.

Nothing I can or want tell you about the plot or crew or anything.


I am going to gush over it like a newborn mother who has just had a baby with all its eyes.

This is a Revenge film.

This is of the slim pantheon of revenge films that elevate their genre, their concept to another more sublime artform.

Watching this film is like watching the truck driver of an eighteen wheeler move up and down the gears.

It starts like many Korean (and Asian for that matter) Thrillers, slow delicate and hard boiled.

This is only first gear.

It maintains this for twenty, maybe thirty minutes — lulling you into a false sense of security.

Then the Director and Cinematographers’ hand come jointly down on that massive gear stick, begin pumping the pedals and accelerating the juggernaut that is this film.

You will have seen nothing like this. Because there is nothing like this.

It absolutely destroys others in its genre.

A new high watermark has been set and I am not sure anything will ever attain what ‘I Saw The Devil’ has achieved.

The violence is ultra — but, with its place, needed. It could so easily stray into some sort of funny near parody — but it never does because of the nerve bending mastery of its script writer, director and cinematographer Kim Ji-woon, Park Hoon-jung. Lee Mo-gae respectively.

Despite the violence, the madness and the grimness, it never loses itself because of the sheer emotion conveyed through the fullness of its creation. It is at times, loving, funny, gallows hilarious, and bleak. All these things, yet throughout its run it remains achingly sad and shockingly beautiful.

The psychological depth to the characters would be enough — from their writing and the obvious research that has gone in, in fields such as criminal psychology, to their portrayal.

Yet this is quite a complete masterpiece.

This is the sort of film that makes you feel bad about watching other films, because they are not as good.

It is the sort of film that will leave you constantly searching for other films of its calibre.

You won’t find many though — few films ever achieve the symphony ‘I saw the Devil’ glides along at.

If films like ‘I saw the Devil’ did not exist — we would not know that the rest of cinema adhered to Sturgeon’s Law. We would not know and maybe that ignorance would be bliss.

Originally published at 5/5/2011