"I take orders from the Octoboss."

I Saw the Devil

tn_isawthedevilI SAW THE DEVIL is the latest from the team of director Jee-woon Kim and star Byung-hun Lee, who did BITTERSWEET LIFE and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD (which I’m really gonna have to see now). Lee plays Soo-hyun, a secret agent type dude whose fiancee is killed by a serial killer. On her birthday. While he’s at work. He is not happy about this.

So through his connections he gets the police files on the four suspects the cops have, and he gets a high tech device or two, and he goes after them. He basically torments the four guys, quickly figures out which one did it, and exacts a complicated method of torture/revenge (torvenge).

Filmatistically this director is a master. His shots are beautiful, his action is clean, his rhythm is perfect. Somehow he knows how to linger on shots and not be in such a hurry, but also knows how to move quickly from scene to scene and skip over unnecessary information to keep an exciting pace.

mp_isawthedevilSoo-hyun is a ridiculously smooth and capable badass just like the character in BITTERSWEET LIFE, only this time he’s on the right side of the law. At least occupationally speaking, not really in his activities here. At a glance he just looks like a handsome, well-dressed young man, but he moves like a ninja. He can quickly climb onto a roof, he can knife fight, knows some kind of martial art, all very quick. He doesn’t talk very much. He means business and has many classic badass moments. One favorite is a shot from inside his car as he pulls up behind one of the suspects, who’s on a motorcycle. I figure he’s gonna follow the guy, find out where he goes. But before I can process it he just rams him from behind and knocks him off the bike.

This movie messed with my head in an unusual way. After a gut-wrenchingly grim opening it turns into such an awesome action/revenge movie for a while that I almost felt guilty how much I was enjoying it. It seems like too much fun for the subject matter. I always enjoy seeing a guy like this go after some sicko bastard, but after what we’ve seen the poor girl go through, and the horror it’s brought to her family and the whole community, it’s a weird fit. Like if ZODIAC turned into COMMANDO.

But like at least half of all revenge movies this is actually a public service announcement for the anti-revenge lobby. As his would’ve-been-sister-in-law tells him, “Revenge is for movies.” The girl’s dad, a retired police chief or something, sort of puts him up to it, and even he starts to think it’s time to cool it.

But our boy is not gonna stop and let the police catch up. He doesn’t care what it does to his soul, he’s on a mission. By “I saw the devil” I think the title means “when you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back into you, and then you’re like what the fuck are you looking at, and the abyss is like sorry sir, I didn’t mean any offense and you’re like you better fucking apologize, abyss, and the abyss is all nervous and it goes yeah, sorry and you shake your head condescendingly as you walk away and in retrospect you were being a real dick to the abyss but the point is you both totally stared each other down it wasn’t a one-way type deal in my opinion.” (That’s an exact quote from Machiavelli or somebody.)

There’s a delicate balance in a revenge movie. It’s fun to watch somebody get revenge on a horrible person, but not if you become conscious of your own sadism and bloodlust while you’re watching and you feel like the movie doesn’t have that same awareness. When that happens you feel dirty. But I don’t know, if anybody comes out of this one feeling satisfied about the level he goes to and what it accomplishes then I would say it is possible they missed the point. And I don’t know what more the movie can be expected to do to get it through your thick skull. I think the movie is off the hook on that one.

Part of the fun is knowing how much he’s lost it, even before worse comes to worstest. He catches Kyung-chul, the maniac who decapitated his fiancee, and he doesn’t kill him at first. He lets him go. Then he follows him around like a wild animal with a tracking tag. Even Kyung-chul (a great sleazy performance by Choi Min-sik) can’t believe it when he wakes up in a hole, left alive, and with a pack of money. He says, “What the hell? The bastard’s a complete psycho.”

Alot of people complain about CGI blood and gore, but in the case of this movie there are at least four absolutely horrifying acts of digital violence. One is a quick knife fight in an enclosed space, one involves the hammering of a face and the third one is more drastic. These are not cool but they are upsetting and disturbingly realistic. It’s over-the-top gore that’s never funny, unless you laugh at just how awful it all is.

But despite all the horrible, graphic shit depicted in this movie I think one of the most unpleasant scenes is the one where the killer is alone with a nurse in a doctor’s office, not even doing anything yet. What makes it so uncomfortable is that you know Soo-hyun has put this innocent nurse in this position by letting his maniac go loose. And you don’t know where our guy is, how much he understands what danger he’s causing, how soon he’s going to intervene.

And the actress playing the nurse is so convincingly young and vulnerable. She’s helpless against this asshole, not just physically but mentally. It’s painful.

These Koreans are getting really good at making movies, but it looks like they need to work on their law enforcement. I mean what the hell, they really got four different guys in the area who might be the murderer because “they’ve done things like this before,” and you haven’t busted them yet? And our guy is able to go find them and you guys haven’t? Are you even working on this case?

And there’s even a fifth and sixth maniac in the area, because Kyung-chul goes to visit his friends, a cannibal couple. No wonder Jee-woon Kim is coming here to do an English language movie next. He’s gotta get the fuck out of Korea. That place is dangerous.

I doubt Schwarzenegger will really end up starring in Kim’s next one like they’re saying, but I sure hope he does. Kim is so good at making Byung-hun Lee seem badass with quick movements and few words. I think he could do wonders with Scharzenegger and bring to our shores the type of clean filmatism modern action movies are sorely lacking.

I don’t think I SAW THE DEVIL has anything new to say about the serial killers or the violent revenge. These are topics that have been covered pretty well in movies, in my opinion. But you know, a sermon doesn’t gotta be brand new material for a great preacher to make it sound good. I really enjoyed — or whatever you call it when a movie like this really works on you — being dragged around and shaken up by this one. Exceptionally well made, unsettling, fucked up, fun, sad. God damn ugly devil. Never shoulda shown his face around here.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 10:47 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

63 Responses to “I Saw the Devil”

  1. Bah. My DVD of this one wouldn’t play after the first 8 minutes, so I’m still waiting to see it. But for now I’ll just take this passage:
    **It’s fun to watch somebody get revenge on a horrible person, but not if you become conscious of your own sadism and bloodlust while you’re watching and you feel like the movie doesn’t have that same awareness. **
    and apply the analysis to the recent bin Laden hit team operation.

    Also, Vern’s grasp of the apt profundity of Prince Fred Machiavellietzsche here is staggering. Well done.

  2. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I will once again recommend The Chaser and Bad Guy. Two brilliant Korean films.

    The Good, The Bad, The Weird has some of the best action direction I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing how each shot just links up to the next in such a smooth, kinetic and effortless fashion. It may not have the same level of depth as A Bittersweet Life or I Saw The Devil, but it’s a hell of a fun movie.

    P.S. I stared down into the abyss once, but I couldn’t really see anything.

  3. good review Vern, agree on lots of your points, felt the scene in the taxi was really well done. It could have easily degenerated into a shaky cam mess.

    Only problem i really had was some of the contrivances with the story with knowing where people lived and that police in Korea need to have someone confess they are a killer to them and bring proof, before they will do anything. Until then they seem to stand around being shouted at a lot

    Other than that a well made and shot film about the nature of revenge and once you go down that path were it will take you

    Not sure if you have reviewed them, but ‘Oldboy’ and ‘The Chaser’ are two other revenge/serial killer movies to track down, they are cut from the same ilk, but have something different to say about their genres.

  4. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Another Korean recommendation: City of Violence.

    Very enjoyable post-Kill Bill action movie.


    I enjoyed this one but I’m not sure I understood the ending. It seemed like his set up was more designed to torture the family than Oldboy. Is that the case? If not, were we really supposed to believe Byung-hun had finally got to him and the guy actually cared about his family seeing him dead? Despite being separated from them for years and pretty obviously a person who cared about nobody? It’s hard for me to believe that straw was the camel breaker.

  6. Good review as always Vern. Liked what you said about the nurse. Soo-hyun isn’t bothered about Kyung-chul’s potential victims – in fact his actions “save” a couple of other women but he doesn’t even seem to notice. Also liked that Kyung-chul is actually getting off on the fact that he’s caused so much torment in Soo-hyn to drive him to such extreme vengeance.

    I’m not a fan of The Chaser, but City of Violence is very good.

  7. There’s even a seventh and eighth psycho: The taxi driver and his mate that pick up Oldboy, which was a mistake.

    One thing that made me laugh (a little) was the exasperation on Oldboy’s face whenever Soo frustrates his latest attempt at nastiness.

    I too have stared into The Abyss. Preferred Terminator.

  8. – vern

    You should check out A Tale of Two Sisters, the directors best film imo.

  9. I enjoyed this one quiet a bit, but it just didn’t seem like it knew when to quit. It has enough plot for at least 5 movies, it tries to push so many emotional buttons so many times that some of my buttons stopped working, and it’s way too digressive. Seriously, every time the movie seemed like it was settling into a solid groove it would totally shift gears, or add in some weird subplot, or through in more unnecessary characters. I suspect that’s what a lot of people dig about it, that it keeps you on your toes, but I found it a little tiresome and frustrating after a while.

    SPOILERS And I agree with Jake about the ending. Not sure that I’m supposed to take away. I think maybe it’s supposed to be deliberately unsatisfying, but I’m not really sure. It’s a shame too, because the final conversation between Lee and Choi is blood-chillingly effective, the realizing that no matter what Lee did, Choi was such a psychopath that you could never really “get” to him… and then they through in all this stuff with a SAW-esque Rube Goldberg booby trap whose ultimate purpose is to… I’m not sure, really.

    All of Kim’s films I’ve seen have been pretty good, but I don’t think he’s as bold of a stylist as Park Chan-Wook or as solid of a craftsmen as Bong Joon-Ho, two other contemporary Korean genre filmmakers. Both are definitely worth Vern’s time if he likes Kim’s films.

  10. – dan

    Have you seen A Tale of Sisters? It`s mindbuggling brilliant put together, sciptwise and direction-wise, especially when you watch it the second time. I like his other movies, but he somehow seems to mess up his stories in the editor-suite. In A Bittersweet Life, a lot of the subplots and weird secondary characters seem to get too much time compared to the mainplot, and in The Good, The Bad, The Weird, the story seems all over the place, with scenes that have no importance in the bigger picture (he gets drugged and safes some kids.. Why? Leftovers from a plot about the chinese army and the freedomfighters that got cut..)
    A Tale of Two Sisters is the only movie of his, where everything seems to come together. And it is frigging scary too! And somehow heartbreaking…

  11. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    You’re right about Bong Joon-Ho being a solid craftsman, Dan. Memories of Murder is so brilliantly structured. It would make a great doudle bill with Fincher’s Zodiac, and I honestly think it’s just as good. Have you seen Mother yet? Masterpiece.

    A Tale of two Sisiters is pretty good, but it got kind of lost amongst all the other Asian horrors. I prefer A Bittersweet Life (completely smitten with that film). You should check out Kim Jee-Woon’s The Quiet Family. I know Takashi Miike remade it into Happiness of the Katakuris, but I haven’t seen that one yet.

    Another good one is Public Enemy. I guess it’s the closest you’ll get to a Korean Dirty Harry movie. Great cop character in that one.

  12. dna,

    Agreed, TALE OF TWO SISTERS is awesome and by far the best of the 5 or so of Kim’s movies that I’ve seen.

    My main beef with GOOD BAD WEIRD, although I really liked it, is that it goes out of its way to announce itself as a Leone homage and then is stylistically nothing like a Leone movie. In fact, I’d say it’s a lot closer in style and tone to the INDIANA JONES movies, or maybe the MAD MAX sequels. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind you, it’s a lot of fun. I just don’t know why it pushes the superficial Leone elements so hard when Kim’s style clearly isn’t very influenced by Leone.

    Something similar happened with last week’s episode of COMMUNITY, which acted like it was a Leone homage but then was shot, plotted and edited like it was a modern, frenetic action movie. I get why an episode of COMMUNITY couldn’t do a for real Leone homage (the opening scene with Annie and Fat Neil alone would have ended up being the length of an entire episode), I just don’t get why they bother with the homage in the first place. Last year’s paintball episode was great because it understood action movies and knew how to lampoon them pitch perfectly. Here it seems like the COMMUNITY folks don’t really get Leone or how to lampoon him, they just kinda borrow a few iconic images.

  13. Knox,

    Yeah, MOTHER might be my favorite movie that I saw theatrically in 2010. Just a phenomenal thriller that packs an unexpected emotional wallop.

    HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS is most memorable for an absolutely transcendent moment where a guy is interrupted during a musical number. He’s in a room and starts singing some corny song, and the room starts to turn into the universe and he starts to fly through it. Then someone opens the door to the room and the universe vanishes, but the guy is still floating a few feet in the air and comes crashing down to the floor. I’m not describing it well but it might be the funniest visual gag in any of Miike’s films.

  14. There most be something in the water in Korea, because they grow some fantastic directors there. Even as American blockbusters have become increasingly popular overseas, their quality has diminished. It’s sad when American’s have to look to other countries to get our film of great genre entertainment. But kudos to Korea for filling that void.

  15. The Good, The Bad, The Weird is just a crazy amount of fun. One of those movies that makes you envious of folk watching it for the first time.
    Not sure if you’ve seen Save The Green Planet starring Ha-kyun Shin from Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, Thirst and others? Lunatic film, one of my favourite freak outs to show unsuspecting viewers.

  16. Nabroleon Dynamite

    May 11th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Just ordered this today from that rip off online company called Amazon.

    Now the wait begins…

  17. You think you can stop me from SPOILERING this movie? You think you can get through to me? Well you can’t. I will SPOIL this movie and there is nothing you can do about it.

    Dan, yeah, I kind of wish they had ended the movie after that conversation since it provides another good reason why revenge is bad and it’s one that I haven’t seen before in any other “revenge is bad” movies. I think I would have got more satisfaction from that kind of dissatisfying ending. I do really like the current final shot though.

    Also I agree that Kim Jee-Woon isn’t as stylish as Park Chan-Wook (Though except for Lee Myung-Se, I don’t know of any Korean director who is) but I would have to see some pretty convincing scene breakdowns to believe that he is not as good a craftsman as Bong Joon-Ho. In my book anyone who can make A BITTERSWEET LIFE is as good a craftsman as any director on the planet.

    Did anyone see UNTHINKABLE? The Samuel L. Jackson DTV movie. I was reminded of that during I SAW THE DEVIL since they are both real good, intense thrillers about trying to break someone down who seems to be unbreakable. (It was only just as a typed that last sentence that I realized I would like to see a continuing series of UNBLANKABLE Samuel L. Jackson movies where he goes around trying to break various people. Or maybe a TV series like the Incredible Hulk where he wanders from town to town trying to break people.)

  18. How is Amazon a rip off? You know how many things I’ve gotten from there that were a lot cheaper than I can get in the store?

  19. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve been hearing good things about Bedevilled. Anyone seen it yet?

  20. BEDEVILLED left me with seriously mixed feelings. The last act is especially effective & haunting, the movie overall looks real nice and is well put together, there are some surprising twists and turns.

    It’s also manipulative and button-push-y to such an absurd degree that would be comical if the movie weren’t so grim. It lays it on so, so thick in making the bad guys one-dimensionally, viciously evil and irredeemable without hardly a recognizable human quality. The first 2/3rds of the movie are basically a series of escalating outrages, and I couldn’t help but feel like the filmmakers were going too far. I don’t mean too far as in too graphic, just that there reaches a point where you think “I get it, these people are horrible monsters and this woman is a helpless innocent, ENOUGH ALREADY” but then the movie has like 8 more outrages to throw at you to make sure you hate all the right people.

    But I can’t deny that the finale is damn effective, even kinda exciting in places. So I dunno. I guess the movie “works” but it also pulls a lot of cheap tricks and makes you feel kinda like a jerk for falling for it.

  21. Je-Woon Kim excites me more than virtually any director working out there today. He’s got and almost Spielbergian effortless ability to entertain and stage shots, but also sports a versitility and commitment to the unexpected that is entirely his own. There’s no other director out there right now that is simply as compellingly and seductively watchable. In some ways, he’s a less intellectually interesting and less auteurish than his peers Park Chan-Wook or Bong Joon-Ho, but its just exceedingly rare to see such an effortless talent for cinematic storytelling at work.

  22. “As his would’ve-been-sister-in-law tells him, “Revenge is for movies.” ”
    Man, don’t you hate that self-conscious cliche line in films? It’s like they think “Oop, better remind the audience that they need to take this shit seriously, so I’ll undermine the fourth wall by throwing in a line that reminds people they ARE watching a movie”.

  23. I think the final act by Soo-hyun does make sense. (Spoilers coming up) – Kyung-chul has made a point of distancing himself from his family – why? Because at some level he still cares about them. Soo-hyun realises this which is why his final revenge (which he must have had in mind from the moment he met Kyung-chul’s parents and son) is so devastating. He might not be afraid to die, but he certainly doesn’t want his family to witness it, nor play an inadvertant active part.

  24. billydeethrilliams

    May 11th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Vern- When you said that Soo-hyun was ridiculously smooth it instantly reminded me of the fight in the doctor’s office. Soo-hyun’s no-look application of gauze was a subtle bad-ass moment.


    But what evidence is there that he distances himself from his family because he cares about them instead of because he doesn’t care about them? Or are we supposed to take the last scene as evidence that he cares with no prior hints that this is the case? I just find it hard to believe that someone as psychopathic and remorseless as him, who seems to have a complete lack of empathy, would care about anyone, whether they were related to him or not.

    I actually really like late-in-the-movie character revelations that change what we know about a character. To me it is an interesting technique. I like how it can actually be surprising or change the dynamic of a film at a point when most movies are content to just knock over the pins they have set up earlier on. I liked the reveal in MYSTIC RIVER that a lot of people hate. And I loved the one in DEATH PROOF. But for some reason the reveal in I SAW THE DEVIL didn’t seem nearly as plausible to me.

  26. SPOILERS I’m with Jake. Nothing in the preceding two hours suggests that the killer secretly gives a shit about his family, and if that’s supposed to be the “twist,” then its handled awkwardly and not clearly.

  27. Insofar as revealing the subgenre in which the film exists, minor BEDEVILLED SPOILER (thus rendering post possibly useless for dude asking aboug bedevilled)

    I had the most trouble getting through Bedevilled of all the rape-revenge flicks I’ve seen. Ever since Irreversible I have been fairly desensitized and detached from the visual portrayal of the rapes, but Bedevilled pushes it a step further and gives you this whole fucked up complicit micro-community in which the victimized female exists. Man, those old ladies made my skin fucking crawl. Also does a weird and misery-inducing trick of having the protagonist be not the victim, but her apathetic/ineffective/complicit/passively accepting friend. The film so adeptly manipulated me that I seriously grabbed a kitchen knife, and tried to walk through the screen and preemptively begin enacting her (victim’s, not friend’s) revenge. (It didn’t work).

    So…I loved it, I woud say it is the most fully realized and effective rape-revenge film I have seen. Not as, er, morally ambiguous as I Saw The Devil (note that I Saw The Devil is not in fact rape/revenge). Believe me you are all about making those fuckers suffer in this one.

  28. Also re: Bedevilled: “It’s also manipulative and button-push-y to such an absurd degree that would be comical if the movie weren’t so grim. It lays it on so, so thick in making the bad guys one-dimensionally, viciously evil and irredeemable without hardly a recognizable human quality.”

    Yeah I feel this, and as a result you don’t take the movie as seriously as you do I Saw The Devil or Thirst or something. But I don’t dock the film any points for it. Many of these Korean flicks feel like exercises in pushing a given genre as far as it will go, and I thought this fit into that m.o. It reminds me of Kaufman’s laying-on-the-misery gimmicks in Synecdoche, NY, like the phone call he gets about how his dad gave the saddest, longest death bed speech of all time. A few scenes in Bedevilled are like that, so absurd in their extremity that you sort of go “Are you fucking KIDDING me?” I don’t think laughter would be an entirely inappropriate, or possibly even unintended, reaction.

    (The scene where the cop comes to the island and interrogates…man I had to pause the movie and run around outside flailing my fists around like I was at a punk rock show or something just to calm down).

  29. @ Jake and Dan Prestwich

    There is probably no evidence that the killer in I Saw The Devil cares for his family proper, but maybe him and his mother still get along. Mothers do love their fuck up sons, although most aren’t serial killers.

    I think the ending brings the movie nicely full circle, I thought him getting decapitated was more important than whether his family was involved. I thought that was what made the movie poetic.

  30. Nabroleon Dynamite

    May 11th, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    @Sternshein. I ordered from amazon itself and not from a seller, so I got ripped off, but I’m sweating this movie right now, so it is what it is.

    Now I’m trying to track down this Bedevilled joint. Sounds like a good one.

  31. renfield,

    “Many of these Korean flicks feel like exercises in pushing a given genre as far as it will go, and I thought this fit into that m.o.”

    I definitely feel what you’re saying there. I don’t disagree; in fact, as I said before, I found the film highly effective in places. I just had trouble respecting myself in the morning, I guess.

  32. I saw the devil: (spoiler) I just figured he kept his family at a distance so that they weren’t involved in his extra-curricular escapades. The leading-a-double-life character trait is common enough with movie serial-killers. Actually, not just movies. Y’know, now that I think of it, it reminds me of a friend of mine who had a kid. He said he didn’t really feel any emotional connection to her when she was born, but thought of it more as ticking something off a list of things he was supposed to do and now that that was done, he was free to go nuts and do whatever he wanted. (His feelings changed since. And he’s not a serial killer as far as I know, which I suppose means this paragraph is entirely irrelevant. Ignore.)

    Bedevilled: (spoiler) This one drove me nuts too, but for the main character’s goddamn passive distance from what was going on. Jesus, woman, help your friend out! Or at least, if you’re going to stand back and watch her get pulled to bits by two scumbags and a bunch of old hags, don’t be too surprised if the sun starts talking to her.

  33. I gave Bedevilled to a friend of mine to review for my site, Now he
    insists on only reviewing light-hearted comedies.

  34. Knox Harrington

    May 12th, 2011 at 3:39 am

    As stylish a filmmaker as Park Chan-Wook is, I don’t think he’s nearly as consistant as Kim Jee-Woon or Bong Joon-Ho. Bong Joon-Ho made Memories of Murder, The Host and Mother. That is fucking amazing. This guy is like the Korean Spielberg; versatile, inventive, a consistantly masterful craftsman.

    Park directed Mr Vengeance and Old Boy, which means I’ll watch anything he makes. But Lady Vengeance, while very good, couldn’t live up to this reputation. I did like Thirst a lot, though. Haven’t seen I’m A Cyborg yet.

    The one filmmaker that doesn’t get mentioned often when Korean genre films are being discussed is Kim Ki-Duk. It’s probably because he’s known as an “arthouse” guy, but he’s actually pretty good at walking that genre line. The Isle and Bad Guy are two great examples. 3 Iron is one of my favourites, although I guess that would fall into the “art film” category. What a stupid term.

    I also like Seung Wan-Ryoo. He’s the guy who made Crying Fist and City of Violence.

  35. Any of you guys seen the Korean remake of A Better Tomorrow yet? It is
    pretty darned amazing, adding a unique Korean spin to the storyline while
    still being very faithfull to the original.

  36. No, Vern, the exact quote is:

    “When you stare into the Abyss, an early crude 1980’s CGI effect of a living column of water with a face stares back at you.”

  37. Lady Vengeance is my favorite of the Vengeance Trilogy. The way he makes Geum-Ja literally radiant in one shot, for example, is a visual gesture of great whimsical poetry, akin to Sophia Coppola x-raying Kirsten Dunst’s underwear in Virgin Suicides. The way the bank robbing couple look at each other when the dude says in voice over “That’s when I realized I was married to a goddess.” The way Geum-Ja gains loyalty by trading favors of murder and even PARTS OF HER BODY. The scene where Mr. Baek translates the conversation between Geum-Ja and her daughter. The film is like a magic blanket you can wrap yourself up in and float away..

  38. brandon curtis

    May 12th, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Seung Wan-Ryoo’s latest is pretty good, it’s called “The Unjust,” it’s about a cop looking to manufacture a suspect for murder because an overzealous cop killed the real one. It has the guy from “Private Eye” and “The Man Who Was Superman,” the dude is pretty imposing physically but I gotta warn you that there is a pretty badly shot fight that caused me to rewind the movie and brighten the TV. I totally got it the second time, but that never should have had to happen. If you like the “Public Enemy” series, “The Unjust” it’s pretty damn good.

  39. Ahoy, Vern! You haven’t seen The Good, The Bad, the Wierd yet? Goodness, man, get thee to Netflix posthaste! Love every moment in the film. It even features a hilarious kill I can’t really think I’ve ever seen before. Fantastic film from start to finish! Can’t wait to hear your take on it!

  40. I watched this movie while on a recent deployment in Afghanistan and I was completely blown away. It is totally terrific and I thought that the ending was perfect. It was a torture for the family of the victim. If the killer had been allowed to die alone, his family would never have had to deal with the horror of it. It was perfect justice, in the evilest way possible, in that it made a victim of the killer. Not a sympathetic victim, but one we can appreciate. The killer knows what he has done to the families of his victims. He glories in it, so even if he doesn’t care about his family, it is the purest of victories against him. The fact that it is also his MO is one of the meanings of See(ing) The Devil. The hero, in order to exact his perfect justice has become the same as the killer. I dug it, hardcore.

  41. Oh! And by the way Vern, the Department of Defense blocks your site on all of their computers. This is sort of a cred issue for you, that’s pretty badass, but it also means that your deployed Service Member pals can’t read your reviews, which sucks. My dedicated wife would copy the text and e-mail me every new one, but other guys are out of luck.

  42. NIPR is for amateurs. MWR computers are for pogues.

    Your wife sounds pretty awesome, though. Sua Sponte.

  43. I just heard this from a guy in the Air Force too. I’m trying to figure out how to get “then fuck you” out of the title page in case it’s a net nanny type issue. But maybe I’ve been judged a subversive?

  44. Nabroleon Dynamite

    May 14th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    @Vern. “Then fuck you Jack” is what brought me here!!

    If you get rid of “Then fuck you Jack” I’ll be forced to say “Then fuck you Jack” right back at you!!

    Don’t force my hand… Jack!!

  45. The expletive in the banner might have something to do with attracting the spambot attacks around here, also. I would welcome the change, Vern. It doesn’t bother me but I feel your writing has matured beyond that particular title.

  46. Well I was gonna leave the jpeg but get rid of it in the page title. But I can’t figure out how to do it. I feel bad ’cause I got alot of people in the military who write to me and they don’t all have wives to email them the reviews.

  47. Nah, don’t change it. It’s such a cool thing to have on there and it really is one of the touchstones of the site. I’ve been reading you for 8 or 9 years now and I’d be sad to see it change. Anyone else who needs a forward can write to my wife. She can hook up the DOD on that one.

    And Mouth, you’re not secretly PFC Manning, are you?

  48. Shit, the narc outed me.

    Yeah, I run Leavenworth.

  49. Hey Vern, go to settings, and then check the General and All in One SEO pages. Those two control how the headers for the pages are generated and indexed by search sites.

  50. Thanks Chris. Military people, let me know if removing one fuck word makes the page accessible.

  51. Great movie, Great Review.

  52. Nabroleon Dynamite

    May 18th, 2011 at 9:56 am

    @Vern. It still says fuck. FUCK YEAH!!

    Ok, so the mailman finally delivered “I Saw The Devil” yesterday…

    I really wanted to like it. It has tons of good fucking gore and action, but I felt none of the emotional shit it was going for because of the action. It seemed to cancel itself out in a strange way.

    The graphic murder of the girlfriend gripped me at the beginning and I thought it was going to sustain that emotional grip throughout the film. Instead it just went into Badassland with both killer and special force guy getting plenty of shine. (Too much shine)

    So when it tries to have an emotional coda at the end I was like…”Fuck that!!”

    Maybe the glenlivet had me in angry drunk mode, so I plan to watch it again tonight.

    Also the english dub is embarrassingly lame as fuck!! The movie deserves better than that, and I’m not that big of a fan. Peace!!

  53. Could the military dudes (and ladies) possibly add outlawvern.com to their google news feed to circumvent said blockage?

  54. Best movie I’ve seen this year.

  55. I liked it very much and suprisingly moved by the first 15 minutes (yes, this directors knows his camera and can manage the story flow perfectly well). This one is recommended also for the great performances of the lead actors. Never really liked Choi Min Sik but I know that he is a fine fine actor and this was one breath taking performance. Lee Byung Hun is an actor I actually like since he seems so earnest in everything he is in.

    I too would like to recommend The Quiet Family – and the remake The Happiness of the Katakuris, the two is actually good examples of how the same story can be told differently and be very entertaining both times-. I would also recommend The Foul King (starring my all time favorite S.Korean actor Song Kang ho) by the same director. Come to think of it, I must have watched all the films of his and I can recommend them all. Although as far as how revenge sucks films go, I think Park Chan Wook still is the king :)

    Someone above mentioned Public Enemy (directed by Kang Woo Suk) and I’d like to second that recommendation, I have a feeling that Vern will like that one.

  56. I finally watched this and all I can say is “WOW”. I had already seen THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD and was blown away by it, but this movie has the same level of filmatism combined with a story that is a like a sucker punch to the gut. I agree that it does not have anything to say about revenge films that has not already been said, but it is such a well made and effective movie I was captivated. It was also way more badass then I expected it to be. The knife fights in this movie are crazy. After having watched this and THE MAN FROM NOWHERE recently I have to say that the Koreans are the masters of the cinematic knife fights.

  57. Philippe Laurichesse

    July 18th, 2011 at 7:42 pm


    Yes, God forbid that a non-American director should continue to make non-American movies with non-American actors. It’s about time he got “the fuck out of Korea” so he can come to Hollywood and make a (real) movie (for Americans) with a requisite happy ending and requisite cast of talented world-class actors like Schwarzenegger. I can’t wait.

  58. Philippe Laurichesse

    July 18th, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    “No wonder Jee-woon Kim is coming here to do an English language movie next. He’s gotta get the fuck out of Korea. That place is dangerous.”

    Yes, God forbid that a non-American director should continue to make non-American movies with non-American actors. It’s about time he got “the fuck out of Korea” so he can come to Hollywood and make a (real) movie (for Americans) with a requisite happy ending and requisite cast of talented world-class actors like Schwarzenegger. I can’t wait.

  59. Inside every good Korean is an American trying to get out.

  60. I don’t think I deserve that condescension, Phillipe. #1, that’s obviously a joke, I do not believe that there are multiple serial killers allowed to run free in every Korean neighborhood. #2, I’ve been complaining for years about directors from other countries coming to Hollywood and losing their mojo, this is not something you have to point out to me. #3 in this review I threw mountains of praise on this movie and the skills of the director so why are you talking to me like I’m some nitwit who only likes American directors and movies?

    My favorite movies so far this year are 13 ASSASSINS and this one. I’ve been obsessing over Donnie Yen and RED CLIFF and MERANTAU and shit over the past couple years. I like alot of Asian cinema. But I got no control over Kim coming to Hollywood, he’s already doing it. It was his idea even, not mine. Since I’m also a fan of Schwarzenegger I’m happy to see him working with such a great director. So sue me. I’ll countersue.

  61. The ATTACK THE BLOCK discussion reminded me of ^this exchange^, showing how people get irrationally pissed off when they [incorrectly] perceive a diss or a racist remark. You scared off Phillippe. One of your finer moments, though, Vern. I doubt you’ll need to lawyer up.

    I’m still laughing at my own assholish comment.

  62. wow, i just watched this one, what a brilliant film.

    and a brilliant ending i thought as well. some people seem to be focusing too much on the idea that oldboy had this secret love for his family, but i dont think that was the point the movie was trying to make. watching the ending again, they never really make it seem like the family being there is painful for oldboy per se, instead its the last iteration of WTF? moments for oldboy in this movie. towards the end oldboy claims that our hero had underestimated him; well, i think the reverse is true too. i think oldboy always assumed he would have some extra crazy in reserve that our hero would never be able to tap into, because unlike our hero oldboy has been nuts for a long time. that turned out to be wrong, and our hero was crazy enough to bring an innocent family into the mix and also fulfill the cannibal’s unintentional sort-of-prophesy in the hospital.

    i think the ending also makes it clear how far away our hero got from his original goal. because right around the time when oldboy evacuated the tracking device, this movie became less about avenging the death of a loved one, and more about winning a crazy pissing contest with a serial killer. oldboy killed our hero’s family, so our guy will scar oldboy’s for life while simultaneously making sure the he gets the last word in in this game. but of course the ending makes it clear that even though he “won”, he lacks the ability to savor this victory, something which oldboy certainly would have had if the situation were reversed. its pretty cool to see a glimpse of humanity return to the hero at the end here, and it think it offers a nice perspective from which to see just how far from society his revenge has taken him.

  63. I saw THE WITCH. Or to be more precise, and to avoid confusion with the Robert Eggers’ movie everyone was hating on back when, I saw THE WITCH: PART 1. THE SUBVERSION, from Park Hoon-jung, who wrote I SAW THE DEVIL and wrote and directed NEW WORLD, which is bloody great. Gotta love a movie with two different punctuation marks in the title! Except I didn’t. For those that like a slow burn to their action/horror the first hour of this is about teenage girls entering a talent show to save the family farm and pay for mom’s treatment, with just enough black SUVs and sinister forces in the background to remind you where you are. I lost count of the movies it is derivative of, but SCANNERS by way of TWILIGHT and HANNA, with a pinch of Jonathan and Martha Kent, come to mind now. Kim Da-mi is, however, excellent in the lead. It’s not a waste of time, but it’s not NEW WORLD.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>