As per usual, I'm late in viewing a critically-acclaimed genre film that beguiled blood-hungry cinephiles the world over. Hey, it's not my fault. For every I Saw the Devil that sends the horror community into a corybantic frenzy (was Bantic the one who died recently or am I thinking of a different Cory?), there is a Video Violence that reaches out to me from the abyssal depths of my Netflix queue. And that's important to remember for two reasons. 1) Video Violence will be the next movie that I review. 2) I prefer to be out of the loop, so stop telling me to rent the latest Danny Trejo vehicle.
I Saw the Devil is a Korean "revenge" thriller in the same vein as Chaser and Oldboy. The storyline sees a psychopath claim the life of a detective's wife. Obviously, the detective swears to avenge the brutal murder of his love, but simply killing this guy won't do. No, he wants to torture this sick fuck. You can't blame him, but as the film progresses, you begin to realize that his objective was ill-conceived. Writer Hoon-jung Park attempts to draw a parallel between the prey and the hunter. After all is said and done, both men are monsters. The underlying theme is provocative on its own, but hammering a straightforward message into the viewer's skull for 141 minutes is a dicey move that doesn't pay off.
The running time is a key factor here. It's rare to find a film that holds your interest for nearly two-and-a-half hours, much less one where the main character is appalling. I get that we're not supposed to sympathize with the "protagonist," but it's hard to stay plugged in for the duration of I Saw the Devil without someone to care about. Our lead's frustrating actions trigger a sequence of events that encroached upon my suspension of disbelief. I watched this flick with a buddy, and we couldn't believe how many plot holes were dispersed throughout the script. I'll leave the bullshit analysis to the fine trolls at IMDb, but suffice to say, these fucking plot holes put Sasha Grey's chasmal, echoing twat to shame.
Explicative porn star references notwithstanding, I Saw the Devil is better than it has any right to be. The imagery is stunning, the special effects are persuasive and the cast is reliable. Despite the flatulent running time, I was never in danger of snoring, though I was eager to arrive at the ending credits. I have nothing else to add. This is a decent motion picture. A lot of people love it. You'll just have to use your own judgment. Personally, I couldn't overlook the lapses in logic and the capricious characterizations. Maybe it's just me, but if my wife was decapitated, I wouldn't play games with her attacker (unless there was a deck of Uno cards handy).
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 9:16 PM