I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil ★★★★★

I Saw The Devil is a masterpiece of Korean Revenge Cinema, perhaps the masterpiece. It hearkens back to Jacobean Revenge Drama, lit theatrically, mixing daily reality with the highest Grand Guignol, severe and understated while also wildly over the top, I Saw The Devil stretches out to its fullest extent, maximizing itself like a predator confronting another predator in the wild. Never in this movie does revenge seem like the right thing to do or an advisable course of action, even when wholly understandable. Even if your beloved fiance is brutally murdered by a disgusting low-life psychopath. Even if you have mad secret agent skills and tech at your disposal. The message is clear: don't do it. Other people will tell you: don't do it or stop doing that please, but that isn't, of course, going to happen. I Saw The Devil does something amazing by ascending a mountain of ludicrous depravity step-by-step and then descending that same mountain step-by-step so that watching it is like hearing and feeling the gears shifting in a vehicle which is changing its approach to specific terrain and incline, so that it can widen or shutter its scope of madness as it will, but closing as simply as it began. I now really really want to see a prequel to I Saw The Devil based upon one seemingly throwaway line which vastly opens up the world of this movie. A perfect balance of intimate chamber drama and comic book insanity, I Saw The Devil is one of the greatest films of this decade and beyond, and my favorite Kim Jee-Woon film (so far).

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