Gruesome revenge: ‘I Saw the Devil’

By: Hayden Fitzsimons

‘I Saw the Devil’ is a Korean film which was released in 2010, and was directed by Kim Jee-woon. In my previous reviews, I’ve often gone into detail on the director, cast, release, and plot in general. However, I find myself wanting to avoid describing this film as much as possible. This does pose some problems as a review is, well, a review.

‘I Saw the Devil’s’ plot is something I will try to avoid spoiling or detailing as much as possible, however, the central point is hard to not talk about. The film revolves around the gruesome murder of Kim Soo-hyeon’s fiancé. Kim Soo-hyeon, a heavily trained secret agent, makes it his duty to track down the killer and avenge his fiancé. However, the vengeance isn’t as simple as one may assume. In films like ‘John Wick’, the plot is simple; a character important to the protagonist is killed, and so the protagonist tracks down and kills or catches the antagonist. ‘I Saw the Devil’ takes a different route.

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It does not take Soo-hyeon long at all to catch the killer, and whilst brutally assaulting this man, Soo-hyeon decides to let him live. He places a tracker into Kyung-chul, the killer, and repeatedly attacks him for the rest of the film. Another monster has been created by a monster.

But, this film is not as simple as following the creation of a monster thanks to revenge. No, the film chronicles nearly constant violence. When I say that this film is not for the faint of heart, I mean it. Many films pose as such and yet barely reach an R-rating. However, ‘I Saw the Devil’ more than earns its R-rating. This film is one of the most brutal and disturbing films I’ve seen, and yet it somehow manages to not be in poor taste, and not go over the top into absurdity.

Once again, I must stress the disgusting and deeply disturbing events that continually happen practically one after another with very little down time. There is constantly blood and violence, however, this is barely the tip of the iceberg. Depictions of cannibalism, severed bodies, decapitation, attempted rape, mutilation, and torture are all on-screen multiple times throughout the film. This is why I find myself unable to recommend this film, despite the fact it is an incredible film with an enthralling and action-packed story.

However, if you believe you can handle the violence, or even get a kick out of it, then I’d advise caution, but would urge you to see the film. ‘I Saw the Devil’ somehow manages to use its continual gruesome violence to teach a valuable lesson on the dangers of revenge, and the horrid lengths humans will attempt to reach just to inflict pain on another.

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