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I Saw The Devil

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This is one of the most brutally violent and bloody films ever made. I'm saying that upfront so there is no mistaking that my extremely high recommendation comes with an extreme warning.

Not only is this one of the more remarkable films I've seen in some time, it is definitely the single most horrifying and disturbing cinematic portrayal of a sociopathic murderer that I've ever seen. These kind of predators really do exist in droves, but I've never seen one on screen that horrified me the way this one does.

What was most astonishing to me about this film -- what makes the film so important -- is that it's the kind of revenge film I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to see. This film treats the subject of revenge with great thoughtfulness. I can't think of another revenge film that better portrays the dangers, messiness, and overall mayhem that accompanies true revenge; in that respect, it is a very different film than any American revenge film ever made. It's also a film made with such artfulness in every respect, you can feel in every scene you're in the hands of a master filmmaker who is taking you exactly where he wants you to be taken. The director also made A BITTERSWEET LIFE and A TALE OF TWO SISTERS -- two films I admire but consider flawed in different ways. But this film has a kind of perfection to it, and the extremity of the violence is so effective, watching it makes you feel more sensitized to the horrors that victims of these kinds of killers are forced to endure.

If you watch it, be sure to get the blu-ray, as the imagery and transfer and outstanding. But again, watch it at your own risk.

Edited by Scott Derrickson

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How does it compare to, say, OLDBOY?

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How does it compare to, say, OLDBOY?

Yeah. As far as I'm concerned, OLDBOY is the gold standard when it comes to Korean revenge flicks.

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Not many movies genuinely creep me out, but A Tale of Two Sisters did, although I thought it went off the rails toward the conclusion.

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How does it compare to, say, OLDBOY?

Yeah. As far as I'm concerned, OLDBOY is the gold standard when it comes to Korean revenge flicks.

And Audition is the gold standard when it comes to Asian violence.

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I'm totally sold on the trailer. Added to Netflix queue!

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How does it compare to, say, OLDBOY?

Yeah. As far as I'm concerned, OLDBOY is the gold standard when it comes to Korean revenge flicks.

I agree. In fact, I think Oldboy is the gold standard for Korean cinema period. But I bumped off the top of my list after watching this film. It's not whimsical or fun the way Oldboy is in places, and it's as violent as AUDITION, but the movie really has a deeply meaningful perspective on revenge, as well as impacting insight into sociopathology. I also recommend CHASER which is not as good as this film or OLDBOY, but is still better than most available Korean films.

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FYI, I Saw The Devil will begin streaming on Netflix on June 9. The Man From Nowhere - another Korean thriller that I've heard good things about -- will start streaming on June 15.

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I've needed a shot of adrenaline lately. I Saw The Devil arrives in my mailbox today. :)

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I'd take A Tale of Two Sisters over this any day of the week.

I agree that it's a thoughtful take on the idea of revenge, but that doesn't make it any more bearable. And for the record, it's not the violence that I've got a problem with, it's just very long and pretty much the same thing from the get-go: gotta get that guy that killed my girl. Like Hanna, which I saw tonight, there's not a whole lot else to it.

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I'd take A Tale of Two Sisters over this any day of the week.

I agree that it's a thoughtful take on the idea of revenge, but that doesn't make it any more bearable. And for the record, it's not the violence that I've got a problem with, it's just very long and pretty much the same thing from the get-go: gotta get that guy that killed my girl. Like Hanna, which I saw tonight, there's not a whole lot else to it.

Well, isn't every revenge film basically 'gotta get that guy that ____'? Perhaps it's the genre you don't like.

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I'd take A Tale of Two Sisters over this any day of the week.

I agree that it's a thoughtful take on the idea of revenge, but that doesn't make it any more bearable. And for the record, it's not the violence that I've got a problem with, it's just very long and pretty much the same thing from the get-go: gotta get that guy that killed my girl. Like Hanna, which I saw tonight, there's not a whole lot else to it.

Well, isn't every revenge film basically 'gotta get that guy that ____'? Perhaps it's the genre you don't like.

That could very well be. Last year I hated and blogged both The Horseman and Harry Brown. I'm trying to think if there is a revenge flick I like. Having a hard time coming up with one.

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I will say that the film is expertly crafted as opposed to the two I mentioned. And I like the idea of the title, which gets subverted in the end.

Edited by Persona

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I will say that the film is expertly crafted as opposed to the two I mentioned. And I like the idea of the title, which gets subverted in the end.

Yes, agreed. And what revenge film ever made portrays revenge as something messy that does more damage than good? The emotional appeal of the revenge flick is by definition an appeal to something immoral within the audience...except in the case of this film (and pretty much no other revenge film I can think of).

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what revenge film ever made portrays revenge as something messy that does more damage than good? The emotional appeal of the revenge flick is by definition an appeal to something immoral within the audience...except in the case of this film (and pretty much no other revenge film I can think of).

That has me thinking: What must a movie do to fall into the Revenge Film category?

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And what revenge film ever made portrays revenge as something messy that does more damage than good?

Quite a few, I'd say. And not just Park's Vengeance Trilogy, which serves up the very impressive OLDBOY as its centerpiece. But there's stuff like SWEENEY TODD and UNFORGIVEN.

Edited by Ryan H.

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And what revenge film ever made portrays revenge as something messy that does more damage than good?

Quite a few, I'd say. And not just Park's Vengeance Trilogy, which serves up the very impressive OLDBOY as its centerpiece. But there's stuff like SWEENEY TODD and UNFORGIVEN.

UNFORGIVEN is a good example, as it inverts the revenge ethic of so many westerns -- but still, that film (and even more so Park's Vengeance trilogy) play on the audiences appetite for vengeance all the way through. The rush of vengeance sought out and satisfied is still a very big part of those stories. This is the only one I know of that creates a tremendous desire in the viewer to see vengeance enacted, then continually frustrates that by seeing other people killed as a result of the vengeance sought, thereby depleting the feeling that the quest for vengeance should continue. And by the end, when the ultimate vengeance is enacted, it's proven that the vengeance sought is and impossible thing to achieve.

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UNFORGIVEN is a good example, as it inverts the revenge ethic of so many westerns -- but still, that film (and even more so Park's Vengeance trilogy) play on the audiences appetite for vengeance all the way through.

I think that's a fair comment about UNFORGIVEN. I don't think that's very true of Park's Vengeance Trilogy, however, at least far as OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE are concerned (I've only seen SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE once, and a long time ago, so I can't speak to that one effectively). There is no satisfaction offered in either of them. Just despair, frustration, and guilt.

Edited by Ryan H.

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what revenge film ever made portrays revenge as something messy that does more damage than good? The emotional appeal of the revenge flick is by definition an appeal to something immoral within the audience...except in the case of this film (and pretty much no other revenge film I can think of).

That has me thinking: What must a movie do to fall into the Revenge Film category?

It must have a central narrative that involves a character seeking revenge (which is usually killing the person or people who deserve extreme justice).

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UNFORGIVEN is a good example, as it inverts the revenge ethic of so many westerns -- but still, that film (and even more so Park's Vengeance trilogy) play on the audiences appetite for vengeance all the way through.

I think that's a fair comment about UNFORGIVEN. I don't think that's very true of Park's Vengeance Trilogy, however, at least far as OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE are concerned (I've only seen SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE once, and a long time ago, so I can't speak to that one effectively). There is no satisfaction offered in either of them. Just despair, frustration, and guilt.

Yeah, maybe you're right about OLDBOY. Like you, I only say SYMPATHY once, and the same is true of LADY -- I'd have to see them again to know for sure, but what you're saying rings true.

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UNFORGIVEN is a good example, as it inverts the revenge ethic of so many westerns -- but still, that film (and even more so Park's Vengeance trilogy) play on the audiences appetite for vengeance all the way through.

I think that's a fair comment about UNFORGIVEN. I don't think that's very true of Park's Vengeance Trilogy, however, at least far as OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE are concerned (I've only seen SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE once, and a long time ago, so I can't speak to that one effectively). There is no satisfaction offered in either of them. Just despair, frustration, and guilt.

Agreed. To be sure, Oldboy offers some exhilarating scenes (e.g., the hallway fight sequence) and some dark humor, but the end is just bleak, bleak, bleak... especially when you think through its implications. Even Sympathy For Lady Vengeance -- which I consider the weakest film of the trilogy -- continues that theme.

Edited by opus

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UNFORGIVEN is a good example, as it inverts the revenge ethic of so many westerns -- but still, that film (and even more so Park's Vengeance trilogy) play on the audiences appetite for vengeance all the way through.

I think that's a fair comment about UNFORGIVEN. I don't think that's very true of Park's Vengeance Trilogy, however, at least far as OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE are concerned (I've only seen SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE once, and a long time ago, so I can't speak to that one effectively). There is no satisfaction offered in either of them. Just despair, frustration, and guilt.

Agreed. To be sure, Oldboy offers some exhilarating scenes (e.g., the hallway fight sequence) and some dark humor, but the end is just bleak, bleak, bleak... especially when you think through its implications. Even Sympathy For Lady Vengeance -- which I consider the weakest film of the trilogy -- continues that theme.

Would you two consider the Vengeance trilogy to be morally anti-vengeance? I'm not sure I would. Interestingly enough, while Unforgiven plays heavily on audience appetite for vengeance, there's no question that it is ultimately an anti-vengeance film. Is the same true of the trilogy? I don't think so, but I'm really not sure.

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Would you two consider the Vengeance trilogy to be morally anti-vengeance?

Yes. A thousand times yes. I'm baffled that anyone could think otherwise.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Scott Derrickson wrote:

: This is the only one I know of that creates a tremendous desire in the viewer to see vengeance enacted, then continually frustrates that by seeing other people killed as a result of the vengeance sought, thereby depleting the feeling that the quest for vengeance should continue.

Heh. Just this morning, I was quoting to someone the line from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where Kirk yells, "You've managed to KILL just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep MISSING the TARGET!"

Of course, Khan was the "villain", in genre terms, and not the character with whom the audience was encouraged to identify. But still. :)

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Would you two consider the Vengeance trilogy to be morally anti-vengeance?

Yes. A thousand times yes. I'm baffled that anyone could think otherwise.

Don't be baffled - I don't think otherwise. I don't remember the trilogy well enough to have an opinion about this issue, which is why I asked for your opinion. I'm pretty sure that when I saw them, there was drinking involved, hence the somewhat foggy memory. :)

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