When the fiancee of an intelligence agent is brutally murdered, he tracks down the killer and extracts his own twisted brand of vengeance.
I Saw The Devil is clearly attempting to ape the wonderful blend of artistic license and violence that was Chan-wook Park’s Vengeance trilogy, but without his keen sense of aesthetics, their otherwordly atmosphere and streak of black humour, this film seems more like a rather crude copycat than the real deal. It contains a similar theme – namely that the pursuit of vengeance makes you become the very thing that you despise – but thanks to its rather voyeuristic depiction of some pretty unpleasant violence and sexual assault, the moral message seems rather halfhearted. The lack of humour combined with some plots elements that stretch credulity to breaking point make it rather difficult to take seriously and the format that combines cop thriller with torture porn reminded me of another Korean film The Chaser, which suffered from a similar type of narrative schizophrenia. I Saw The Devil shows some nice directorial flourishes and a strong performance by Min-sik Choi as the unrepentant murderer saves the film from outright seediness however and it is unusual and offbeat enough to warrant a viewing.
It’s just not in the same league as the trilogy it is trying so hard to emulate.