I Saw the Devil
Starring Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi and Gook-hwan Jeon. Written by Hoon-jung Park. Directed by Jee-woon Kim. Not rated. Opens at the Burton Theatre on 4/15.
Here's a tough question to tackle: what would you do if your fiancé (a pregnant one at that — which kind of slants the question towards the male readers I suppose) were viciously murdered by a twisted serial killer? Would you take matters into your own hands? Would you succumb to crippling depression and take your own life? Would you change your relationship status on Facebook and just move on? Well, in the case of I Saw the Devil, a man who lives through the very horrifying scenario detailed above chooses option one, putting his resources and abilities as a secret agent to good use and quickly tracking down the killer. But rather than exact his revenge through a good old-fashioned murder, he instead pops a tracking device down the dude's gullet and decides to let him loose, popping up at odd moments over the subsequent days to continue his extended torture.
Like a hammer to the skull (something this horrifyingly violent film features), there's no denying the visceral impact of I Saw the Devil. But while many people have been quick to compare this film to Seven and The Silence of the Lambs, I would disagree. When you scratch below the sheen of the film's finely polished surface (and director Kim is something of a visual master) both the story and the characters lack the psychological depth of those superior films and are really rather one-dimensional. This film is all style and little substance. For those that can stomach its sadism, I Saw the Devil provides a skillfully composed thriller — but it's really little more than grade-A torture porn. — Kirk Vanderbeek