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I Saw the Devil (2010)

When his pregnant fiancée becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge.

I originally wrote this review back when I started my site in June, and I think about 2 people read it. It is a little bit spoilery, and not my most articulate writing, but hey it’s all a learning curve and I hope to keep improving. Now a few more visit here, I felt it deserved a re-release, as the film is incredible and I hope it encourages at least some of you to maybe try and track a copy down. 

I Saw The Devil is a Korean film about a serial killer who is on the loose and committing some of the most diabolical crimes the police have ever seen. No one is safe as the body count rises and the killer continues his evil odyssey of sadistic butchery. But when the fiancée of an elite special agent becomes one of his victims, a personal investigation becomes a merciless and brutal game of vengeance.

The serial killer is played by the superb Choi Min-Sik (Oldboy) and Lee Byung-Hun (A Bittersweet Life) plays the special agent. These 2 actors really push it to the limit and the film excels in every possible way. I Saw The Devil is reminiscent of other serial killer films such as Seven but with a level of violence that far exceeds anything that most directors will make. The violence whilst extreme really adds to the experience. It really is all about showing how far one man will go to get the ultimate revenge.

Minor spoilers………….

Another Korean masterpiece I love is Oldboy, and seeing Oldboy’s Choi Min-Sik in I Saw The Devil in a very different role as a serial killer shows just how good an actor he is. He really is a horrible character, and you almost want him to get caught and get tortured due to the things he has done. Rather than just capture the killer, Lee Byung-Hun captures, tortures and then releases him again and again committing the maximum amount of pain possible without killing him as he seeks revenge for his fiancée. And boy does he go to town in the torture stakes. Every time you think the shot is about to cut away as it normally would with a Hollywood produced film it doesn’t, and you see everything. Any fellow Asian cinema fans will already know this as films produced in the eastern side of the world don’t do toned down violence.

Visually the film looks superb, it features some top drawer cinematography and the choreographed fight scenes are incredible, but again this is not surprising given the calibre of the actors and director involved. The subtle soundtrack, the supporting cast, just everything about the film is pretty much perfect. And without giving it away the ending is very satisfying.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. It may not be for the faint hearted, but it deserves to be seen. This was the toned down version, the director had to take some violence out just to get it release. Staggering really as I can’t picture a more extreme version! However, if you can look past that (or through your fingers at it!) you will be rewarded with an incredible film which gives us a villain as memorable as Hannibal Lecter and an anti-hero special agent who you will root for to get his revenge.

9 stars

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45 Comments

  1. I absolutely hated this movie, and felt so unbelievably robbed by it’s “conclusion” that I was quite literally angry after watching it. It was a terrible way to throw a few bucks away, for me.

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    • Really??! Wow, ok. Never found someone who hated it before…….normally people I find havent even seen it. What didnt you like, or just all of it? I couldn’t see any better way to end it, but I didn’t really want to get into spoilers. To each their own 🙂

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      • Yeah, I’m completely retarded – bookmarked this directly after leaving my reply, just came back to read the full review, and realized this isn’t even the movie I was thinking of ROFLMAO.

        The movie I was actually thinking of was The Devil Inside

        Yeah, this movie kicked ass. Good call.

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  2. jmount43

     /  November 18, 2012

    This movie was fantastic and sick and sick and fantastic.

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    • Hoped you would like it!! And I agree, it was all of those things, and hundreds more! One of my all time favourites, and I cannot recommend it highly enough! Cheers John 🙂

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  3. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for a while now. I need ti get my act together and hunt down a copy.

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  4. One of my favorite films of the last few years. Insane.

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  5. This movie ROCKS.

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  6. I just wrote a review on this a few days ago on my blog. Badass movie!!! Those Koreans know how to put on a damn good bloodbath

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  7. r361n4

     /  November 18, 2012

    I remember seeing the trailer for this a while back, I definitely want to catch this now. Also haven’t seen Oldboy, I’m guessing you recommend it?

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  8. Nice review, Tyson! 🙂

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  9. Yes, yes, yes, I am so eager to see this!!

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  10. jenkakio

     /  November 19, 2012

    I’ve always wanted to watch this movie. It’s always on my “suggestions” on Netflix. I love Korean gore-y movies. It’s not quite horror, but not quite thriller. It’s the in-between the two. This movie vaguely reminds me of “Say Yes”, another Korean horror/thriller movie. But my all time favorite will always be Old Boy.

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    • Your description is spot on! I haven’t seen the film you mentioned but will definitely look it up.

      As for Oldboy, I too love that, but this film pushes it very close for a tie! Hope you like it 😉

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  11. This made my Top 10 of 2011. I thought it was that good. Half the time, I couldn’t believe what I was watching… and I couldn’t stop looking.

    I think this makes a great double feature with “Cold Fish.” Both sick–sickeningly awesome.

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    • Thats great to hear! High praise indeed! 🙂

      I have heard a lot about Cold Fish, but struggled to find a copy. I need to try harder, thanks for reminding me.

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  12. This is really strange. On a whim, I watched this last night and the first review I see in my blogger feed is yours!

    This film was absolutely brutal but there’s a beauty to it aswell. The direction is FLAWLESS. That knife-fight car scene is gory but also technically amazing. I loved the hell out of this film.

    If I had one complaint, it’s that the lead character put innocent people’s lives in danger by letting the killer go each time. But I guess that’s where you have to suspend your disbelief.

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    • Spooky coincidence!

      The car scene gets a lot of love, a bit like the corridor scene in Oldboy, seems to be a lot of peoples favourites.

      I hear you about the complaint, but yeah, all part of the ‘game’ I guess! Cheers for the comment Ben 🙂

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  13. This has been in my instant que for a while. I might have to check it out soon even though I usually don’t like horror movies from that side of the world. I love my gore, but they take it almost too far. I did enjoy Oldboy though, great twist, one of the best I have ever seen.

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    • Can go a bit far with their gore I would agree, but when done right and with a purpose, like on this film, it makes it so worth it! If you like Oldboy then hopefully you will feel the same if you catch this.

      I agree about the twist btw! Amazing 🙂

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  14. Loved this film, especially the car scene.

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  15. Pretty freakin’ vicious movie and one that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It’s message may get a bit skewered by the end, after all of the blood has been shed, but you still can’t deny that this movie is one of the better revenge movies to have come out in some recent time. Good review.

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  16. I don’t think I Saw the Devil would be my cup of tea because it might exceed my gore threshold. 🙂 The again that threshold is continually being pushed back. It does sound excellently done. Very good review!

    http://eclecticbooksandmovies.blogspot.com

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    • It is gory I wont lie, but in my opinion it is worth suffering through! I have been trying and failing to get my wife to watch it, as I really think she will appreciate the story and otherwise perfect film. I will succeed one day!

      If you can stomach it I hope you love it as much as I do. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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  17. meeradarjiyr1

     /  March 10, 2013

    I liked this! All things gory…the disgusting bloody scenes were well executed and the acting was brill! Had to watch this in a lecture and all I could hear was “eww” and more of “eww” but I thought it was pretty good 🙂

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    • Thanks for checking the review out!! Glad you liked it. Seen it a few times now and it still never ceases to amaze me how good it is 🙂

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  18. I really like to watch such thrillers, especially if it is a Hollywood film. I have not watched exactly this one but its Bollywood version “Ek Villain” (means one villain in english). The film has a simple concept but much effective, it involves me a lot through its screenplay and lead characters, and i really like the flow of it, never goes much up or down. Overall it touches me, and I would like to suggest you Guys to watch it once. Also, I guess there will be not a major difference between both the versions, so 9/10 is a fair rating for it.

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