Movie Review: I Saw The Devil (2010)

Director:   Kim Jee-woon

Writer:  Hoon-jung Park (screenplay)

Stars:  Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, In-seo Kim

Plot Summary:

When a serial killer (Min-sik Choi) kills the fiance of a government agent (Byung-hun Lee)  he crosses the line between good and evil  in order to find his fiance’s killer and make him suffer for what he has done.

What would you do if your love, your reason for breathing in the morning was taken from you?  Horribly. What if you had the means at your disposal to track him, but not only track him but once you find him make him your prey.    This is what happens when a cannibalistic serial killer finds the fiancé of a government (it doesn’t say what his actual job is but it is implied that he is something like secret service or Korean CIA)  agent kills her and the baby she was carrying and then chops her into pieces.  To eat.  What you have here is a Korean version of Red Dragon/Hannibal with a twist.  The agent who is tracking the has his own agenda and it isn’t bringing him in.  No he is going to find him hurt him, fix him up let him run a bit, find him again and hurt him some more, and repeat.  You see Byung-hun Lee slowly loose whatever good he had in his soul as each times he finds his fiancé’s killer and inflects a little more damage until he can handle no more as he cries when his last trap kills Min-sik Choi who remains unrepentant and defiant to the end.

This is a violent film, and I’ve watched it twice and both times that level of violence still makes me feel uncomfortable as there are no cut away scenes you see everything.  Yet part of what draws me to this film is the different type of violence both characters are violent: one is by nature and one is by training.  But as the film goes on what does that training do to someone to be this violent, this revenge motivated?  Because at any point in time he could have just turned over the killer to the police, and in fact his refusal to do so results in other murders, rapes, by the serial killer because it is in the nature of the serial killer to do such things.  But what does it say about the hunter?  Why does he allow this to happen, perhaps it is in his nature too.

If you liked No country for Old Men, Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs, or Red Dragon you may like this movie but at the same time this isn’t for the squeamish and definitely not for any children at all.  Lastly this is in Korean with subtitles.

I’m going to give this three stars out of five I would have given it more but I can’t the violence level makes me reduce this by at least one star.


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