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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

I Saw the Devil


Starring: Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 09 May 2011

Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) is very much in love with his fiancé, Ju-yeon (San-ha Oh), the daughter of the retired chief of police. However, when Ju-yeon is kidnapped and brutally murdered by serial killer Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik), Soo-Hyun is determined to avenge her death, using his skills as a special agent. He vows on the name of his lost love not just to track down her killer, but to make him pay. But when a good man uses evil means how long can it be before that evil corrupts his good intent...?

I saw the Devil (Akmareul Boatda - 2010 - 2 hr, 23 min, 54 sec) is a revenge thriller/horror movie written by Hoon-jung Park and directed by Jee-woon Kim.

There is a vein of Korean movies which deal with the concept of revenge and its ultimate futility. Although I Saw the Devil swims in the same seas, this is a very different fish. The film, via its very graphic violence, details the corruption of Soo in his pursuit of Kyung, something which even Kyung can see, even if Soo appears to unaware of the changes.

It is not the fact that Soo decides to take the law into his own hands after the severed head of Ju is discovered, it’s the way he goes about it which is disturbing. Soo catches Kyung, beats him half to death but does not kill him; instead he forces a tracking device down his throat. Soo can now track his prey, periodically appearing and inflicting more pain. The problem with this plan is that Kyung is essentially free to kill again, something which does not seem to bother Soo, so intent is he on making Kyung suffer. There is no moral ambiguity here, Soo appears quite oblivious of the damage Kyung inflicts on others. During the course of the film Soo the hero takes on all the aspect of Kyung, as the two play their deadly game of cat and mouse.

There is no doubt that, at points, this is a difficult film to watch. The clarity of the Blu-ray is very impressive when it is showing scenes set in the snow, where each flake had definition. This is not so great when you’re watching a young girl getting her brains bashed in, made all the more gruesome due to the effective make-up.

Both Lee Byung-hun (Soo) and Choi Min-sik (Kyung) turn in impressive performances. Lee plays Soo as a man devoid of feelings, apparently immune to the harm the chase is taking. In the end you get the feeling that the death of his fiancé is almost incidental as Soo is enjoying the chase just as much as Kyung. Kyung is the opposite of Soo, mad as a hatter he may well be, but he is also a man of extreme passions. Together or apart the sparing of the two keeps you glued to the screen.

Apart from the very impressive visuals on this disc, the audio has two options, 2.0 LPCM of 5.1 DTS MA, both in Korean with English subtitles. The latter track impresses as does the soundtrack.

The disc comes with a number of extras, including Making Of (18 min, 12 sec) which consists totally of behind the scenes footage, nice but it doesn’t tell you much about the film. There are a couple of small trailers, the Teaser (53 sec) and TV Spot (1 min, 44 sec). The meat of the extras is to be found in the interviews (19 min, 05 sec) with the director and the two main leads.

This was a great film, made better for appearing on a high quality Blu-ray transfer, although the extras did let it down a little.


Charles Packer

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