SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
From the opening shot of I Saw the Devil, I was invested. Gripped. Entranced. Lured so far into the film's magnificent tapestry that I couldn't look away from the screen, even if there were moments that I wanted to. I Saw the Devil took me completely by surprise, orchestrating a fable of sorts that discusses the nature and necessity of revenge in the most beautiful and operatic way possible. Seriously, there are so many scenes where the INCREDIBLE score picks up, and it just hits that special part of your mind. You know, The part that film lovers have that enables us to tell between a fantastic film and a masterpiece.
I Saw the Devil is a masterpiece.
The Awesome: The opening sequence in particular is extremely impressive, with the contrast between snow and blood, tranquility and violence, silence and screaming; If the opening scene was a short film, it would be more technically and emotionally accomplished than hundreds of films released each year.
But, the film continues, and believe it or not, it retains the brilliance of the first five minutes throughout the rest of the running time. The twists and turns are breathtaking, conjuring multiple instances of crazy tension and suspense. The continually moving story is only improved with the stunning cinematography, which is one of the main reasons why I stuck with the film. Besides the brilliant story, cinematography, and dedicated performances; this film is hard to watch. But yet, I never felt like it was going too far. The director, Kim Jee-Woon, understands that the violence is essential for telling such a brutal and outlandish story. Restraint is everywhere in this film, but many moments don't hold back, as they are necessary to witness to truly understand the horror of Kyung- chul's actions.
Kyung-Chul. Thought Kevin Spacy in Se7en was scary? THINK AGAIN! Choi Min-sik plays this role to perfection, culminating in his greatest performance to date. And Lee Byung-hun is just as good, with a final shot that will send cinematic chills all over your body.
The Terrible: It isn't for everybody. Trust me on this. If you can't handle bloody violence and gore, rape, cannibalism, and even borderline torture sequences; then I Saw the Devil isn't for you. If you can't handle it, I wouldn't blame you. It's a tough watch.
Overall, I Saw the Devil is a true masterpiece from Kim Jee-Woon. It may not be as much fun as The Good, The Bad, The weird; but It's just as engrossing and mesmerizing.