I Saw the Devil




Time Out rating:

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Time Out says

Tue Feb 22 2011

Before coming down too hard on this especially brutal serial-killer thriller (maybe lavishly so), let's note the maturation of another filmmaker: David Fincher, director of the gruesome Seven, who might be going home with an Oscar this weekend. South Korea's Kim Ji-woon probably doesn't have a Social Network in his future. But his extreme movie plunges us deeply into the core of obsession, a promising sign of intelligence. You can hardly call Kim's central supercop a hero: Spinning with grief over the murder and dismemberment of his fiance, the lawman frees the culprit (Oldboy's Choi), only to repeatedly hunt and torture him.

Whatever gets you through the night, right? I Saw the Devil tries to make a sophisticated point about the unfixability of tragedy, which can be numbed only by more violence heaped upon the original crime. Alas, this translates into one of the most unpleasant experiences you'll ever have in a theater. Tendons are sliced, hammers bluntly wielded, even an old buddy turns out to be a cannibal---and you can't help but think, Enough, already. Ultimately, the returns of the film's premise can't justify a nearly two-and-a-half-hour squirm. The savagery is honest, raw and hardly entertainment.

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Release details

US release:

Fri Mar 4, 2011


141 mins

Cast and crew


Kim Jee-Woon


Kim Jee-Woon


Choi Min-Sik, Lee Byung-Hun

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