I Saw the Devil


When Special Agent Kim’s fiancé is brutally murdered by a psychopathic serial killer something inside the Agent snaps and he hunts the man who took his future with a brutal intensity.

Ah, revenge, that most human of emotions, the intense desire that has destroyed men, nations, and empires, that most instinctual response we all feel whenever we’ve been wronged. We try and deny it’s there, we try and pretend vengeance is something we can easily push away, we try and act as though our modern human achievements blot out the primal animal we all come down to in the end, but we all know it’s still there, that little bit of caveman that kept us alive thousands of years ago. We’ve all felt it at being passed over for that promotion or losing someone we loved to another or even just being cut off in traffic, that desire to right the wrong we feel was thrust upon us undeservedly, that desire to cause the hurt we feel upon others. Trust me I understand, even being dead as long as I have been I would still love to feast on the flesh of G****** L**** for those horrible prequel movies he made (for legal reasons I can’t say exactly who I’m talking about but I can tell you he has a beard, he’s kind of chubby, he created the Star Wars Universe and he lives on a place called The Moonlight Bunny Ranch…wait, that’s where I want to live, he lives on a place called Skywalker Ranch where he pisses all over his fans and slaps them in the face with an ear to ear grin). Who am I talking about? If I have to spell it out for you…you probably went to my school so no worries.

Our revenge flick begins with a Special Agent talking with his wife to be on the phone when an individual with some serious anger issues kidnaps and then murders the poor woman, leaving our agent devastated, broken, and empty. It doesn’t take long for that emptiness to turn into rage, a rage so deep it burns away anything left of the man who was. What he’s a Special Agent in is never accurately explained nor is it very important, what is important is that a man with some very specialized and deadly techniques has just turned his sights on the murderer who took his fiancé away from him. Once he catches up with the killer after a long and exhaustive search, our Agent has quite a few ideas in mind, one of which includes getting a tracking device into the killer so he can torture him, let him go, and find him again, all in order to begin torturing him once more, letting him know the pain his love would have felt before she passed on to the next stage of existence. As his quest for vengeance continues and the tortures become more elaborate, Special Agent Kim comes to fully understand Nietzsche when he said “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”


{That’s one way to keep a man in place}

I have to give it to Korean Cinema, over the last decade they have managed to put out a steady stream of great flicks that have really impressed me, and I’d have to say this one is probably the best I’ve seen so far. I was constantly blown away by the amazing acting, the unpredictable story, and the constant viciousness permeating every bit of this film.


{Pictured: Viciousness}

The first thing that blew me away was the unbeatable acting, two people in particular just shone as some of the highest talents in their field, Special Agent Kim Soo-hyeon (played by Byung-hun Lee, the man who played Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and psychotic mass murderer Kyung-chul (played by Oldboy’s Min-sik Choi). These two stole the show so to speak and that doesn’t mean that every other actor here sucks because every actor in this film does a great job, just that these two were top notch. There is one scene in particular about ten minutes into the film where our Special Agent is leaving his fiancé’s funeral and you can watch all the pain and sadness in his face transform into rage and hatred, you can see him make up his mind and all without a word. In fact, there really isn’t a whole lot of dialogue for this movie period, not that it’s a silent film but Director Jee-woon Kim let’s most of the film’s success ride on the strength of his actors’ performance, and when someone does speak, they usually have something interesting to say.



{Two extremely talented actors}

The story only helps to accentuate these performances by putting the characters in some seriously fucked up scenarios, scenarios I could never have seen coming. That was something else that I loved about this movie, the complete unpredictability of what was going to be happening next. I just never knew what to expect to be coming at me from one moment to the next. It was awesomely written and I found myself more and more drawn in as the story went on, not knowing at the end if I was still behind the Special Agent or if I’d moved my sympathies toward the homicidal maniac. That’s yet another great example of the fantastic writing, the fact that you end up feeling something for such a sick human being, sympathy is probably a bad word because you don’t feel sorry for what happens to him, you just can’t help but kinda like the dude. Not only that but our “hero” of the story becomes almost as bad as the man he’s chasing and so the lines between who is exactly the good guy and who is exactly the bad guy become blurred to near unrecognizable. Add in the nonstop vicious, visceral brutality and you have a recipe for one of the best movies this zombie has ever seen, and when I say vicious and brutal I mean vicious and brutal. This movie goes right for the throat and once there firmly plants its teeth until the credits roll. There is one scene in particular involving one of the most insane taxi rides I’ve ever seen…and that’s all I’m going to say about it, it’s something you need to see.


{Just a hint of the taxi ride}

I did have one complaint and though it had more to do with the DVD than the actual movie, it’s still a complaint and one I think is going to ruin it for some people, subtitles. Personally I always watch a foreign flick with the subtitles the first go around just because I’ve seen too many foreign movies that actually lose too much of their substance in the dubbing translation. That being said, I still like to have a good dubbed version just in case I’m lazy and don’t feel like reading, typically the result of overindulging on human flesh, but there really isn’t a good dub here. I’m not sure what idiot was given the job of picking the voices to replace their Korean counterparts but he or she was either:

  1. Way drunk, like Billy Bob Thornton drunk
  2. High out of their mind in a bad way…or good way depending on the substance
  3. Just plain didn’t really care what they were doing

Whatever the reason for their poor choices, there really isn’t an excuse for bringing down such an amazing movie with something as easily fixable as the dubbing. Just to give you an example of how bad it gets, our serial killer sounds like a cartoon character, our agent sounds like someone trying to be tough, and his fiancée sounds like a valley girl, just all bad.


{Picture this scene but with the guy sounding like a cartoon character and you’ll see how much the dubbing can ruin it}

Still, if you’re the type who goes for subtitles anyway, this isn’t a big deal for you, if you aren’t, I’d ask you to give this one a chance anyway. This movie is an amazing flick, good enough that my complaint for the DVD isn’t going to affect the movie’s rating, it’s just too great of a movie. Even if you don’t like subtitles now, this may be the first film to convince you otherwise.


The Undead Review


Directed By: Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good the Bad and the Weird)

Starring: Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Three…Extremes) and Min-sik Choi (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance)

Released By: Softbank Ventures and Siz Entertainment

Release Year: 2010

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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