Ghostsmut’s review published on Letterboxd:
I wonder how many people get through all of this film? Certainly if you watch a film called I Saw The Devil with the above cover you should probably expect something nasty. This delivers.
Interestingly, Alice thinks this is a retelling of Taken except with some fucking balls. I agree. Basically, a police officer has his pregnant fiancée kidnapped by a psychopath (played by the guy who was Oldboy) who murders her. He then finds the killer and decides to react a fearsome revenge by planting a tracking device inside him, letting him go and then attacking him at random intervals whenever he is about to harm someone else. Interestingly, the politics and morality of the film are stacked against the lead character. Everyone continues to berate him for not just bringing him in for justice.
Obviously, the plan backfires and the killer gets back on the loose and targets the rest of the man’s family. Through this we a lot of terrible people. In fact, it makes me pretty positive that I NEVER want to go to Korea.
I’m skipping out the bits that you need to be warned about. This film has insanely graphic violence: attempted rape of minors, ankle tendons sliced, heads smashed in with hammers, throats sliced, scissor, knife, screwdriver, ice pick stabbings, fishhooks in bare feet, decapitations. Thought you should know.
At 2 hours 20 the film is probably a little too long. I think maybe one bout of him catching and letting him go again could have been chopped but for the constant feeling of threat and dread the film conjures.
As you’d expect I found euphoria in some of the violence. Specifically the ending which snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. Is he crying or laughing at the end? Regardless it’s a bittersweet ending and all the more exceptional for it. The main importance here is that the main character never kills anyone so for all the rules he breaks he never stoops to the level of the killer. Something Hollywood could fucking learn.