I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil ★★★★

What if the only thing motivating Batman was vengeance? Welcome to Kim Jee-woon's I Saw The Devil, with masterful performances from Lee Byung-hun as a revenge-obsessed, obscenely violent Batman and Choi Min-sik as the even more maniacally violent Joker.

This is not a movie for everyone. It's a movie for only a few, because some of the things that happen here are done in such a creatively yet straight-forwardly horrible way that you start to wonder if you're just watching torture porn. One man is bent on punishing the serial killer who crossed him and many other women, and rather than just murder said killer Byung-hun sets him free only to step in at the last moment and punish him once more.

Except this isn't just a vigilante revenge drama. It's an examination of one very specific question: what is pure evil? Answer: Kyung-chul. Every time Min-sik is spared he immediately goes back to sinning, and every time he is about to claim another victim Byung-hun steps in to brutally punish him. And then doesn't take his life and sets him free... except Min-sik does the same thing, over and over. And then Min-sik realizes that he has been bugged, that this mystery man playing God knows everywhere he goes, everything he says and everything he's doing. But what does he do with that knowledge? Nothing; he goes on making the same mistakes, only to get bested once more, determined in a very Joker-esque way to play to Byung-hun's humanity when it suits him. It's a man who learns there is someone, something watching, and what does he do? Ignores it, challenges it when he stands no chance of winning, and ultimately pays the price for it

And that turn during one of the last conversations between Byung-hun and Min-sik. Chilling.