(2010) director Kim Ji-woon
I saw I Saw the Devil because I’ve liked a lot of Korean films that have come out over the past several years. And sometimes the darker ones are the ones that resonate the best.
Unfortunately, I Saw the Devil is not one of the better films, dark as it is. It’s a cop hunting a serial killer movie. Serial killer kills cop’s girlfriend in the first act. Cops hunts serial killer. Finds him. Beats him up. Tags him with a GPS device that also allows him to hear everything that is going on around him. Tracks him. Beats him up again. Keeps letting him go.
I suppose that the darkness is that the very dour pretty boy cop played by Lee Byung-hun goes from a good normal guy cop to an avenger who also likes to torture his prey. Choi Min-sik, who plays the serial killer, was the star of the far better Oldboy (2003), and his character, while despicable, also has more humor, charm and pathos than his pursuer. Like any film where the duality of good vs. evil tries to transpose the hero with the villain, there is an attempt to demonstrate how each is of the other and so forth.
My real problem with I Saw the Devil was just that it didn’t play quite right, the tonality of it felt weird, sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, and then of course Lee Byung-hun, whose whole performance was one long scowl. It’s not a terrible film, just not a very good film. In my opinion, anyway.