If you’re going to be gory, go all out. Right?
Words: Desmond Childs
The visual scare we get from seeing the bodily fluids, organs, skin, and bones of disembolwed characters in movies is a different type of scared. At least it is for me. This is precisely the reason, torture films are not my cup of tea. Not because their scary and I lose sleep at night; but because I’m too grossed out to continue on watching. However, I know alot of people who enjoy gore-flicks simply for the art of gore i.e. the makeup used in these types of movies. I recently developed a respect for makeup artists after watching the documentary (Starz Inside)Fantastic Flesh: The Art of Make-Up EFX. It’s truly amazing how long some actors and actresses have to sit and wait for make-up to be applied. Sometimes actors in make-up spend more time putting on their character make-up than they do filming for the day.The art of make-up plays a pretty big role in I Saw The Devil. We have a movie about a man seeking revenge through torturing the man who brutally murdered his wife.
Mr. Kim is a writer-director whose had the opportunity to write and direct most of the films he’s been involved in. He’s also known around Korean film buffs as the director that can do any kind of film, and he’s had success in a number of different genres. With a career spanning back 13 years, Kim’s projects have been as follows: The Quiet Family (1998), The Foul King and Coming Out (both 2000), Three (2002)(in which he directs a portion fo the film), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), and The Good, The Bad, and The Weird (2008). In fact, I Saw The Devil is the only film to-date that Mr. Kim had not written.
In I Saw The Devil, Mr. Kim and the crew are keen on letting the scene “sit and stew” for a few seconds. Whenever the tough, gritty scenes occurred the audience usually got a long shot, with cinematographer Lee Mo-gae trying to fit as much as he could on-screen. The fight scenes were more tight, close up on the actors putting the audience firmly in the passenger seat. And there was plenty of in your face, bloody action to complement the camera being in so tight. One particular scene that takes place in a cab is easily one of the more violent scenes I’ve had the (pleasure?) of seeing in a film for some time.
Revenge vs. Entertainment
In this movie, we have two guys destined to torture one another until one or the other finally gets the upper hand and murders the other. Did that make sense? Let me try this way:
In order to avenge the death of his girlfriend/fiancé(?), a government agent tracks, catches, tortures, and sets free the man responsible for killing his girlfriend. And yes, the movie’s story is nearly written around the villain of the film; which probably made the movie more intriguing in hindsight. In Kyung-chul we have our villain: a sadistic, merciless, serial killer who takes pleasure from chopping up the bodies of his victims. Even after the death of government agent Soo-hyun’s girlfriend, we get to see Kyung-chul murder like 7 more people while also facing off against Soo-hyun. The plot was a little bizarre in this way, where Kyung-chul would lure a victim somewhere kill them or be in the process of killing them; but he’s stopped by Soo-hyun. Soo-hyun usually tortures him instead and dumps his unconscious body around various parts of the town.
The film becomes incredibly strange when we see Soo-hyun (the agent) torture Kyung-chul then leave him money. It’s at this point where their little battle becomes some sort of gross, game of h-o-r-s-e. The person able to torture a victim the worst and survive the ordeal wins, with the killer torturing innocent bystanders, and the agent torturing the killer. Very strange indeed. The reason this film is going to make an impression, is because of the lack of emotion throughout. Killing and torture are handled so casually by these two characters that the audience can’t help but feel uneasy when either one is on screen. This weird, casually tone also nearly offsets the pay-off of the film. Don’t get me wrong, there is a proper conclusion, but there is definitely not a winner.
While it’s not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, I Saw A Devil does do a decent job asking and showing the answer to one question: How far are you willing to go to settle the score?
I Saw The Devil is now playing on “Instant Watch” on netflix.com