I Saw the Devil Stretches to Sadomasochistic Extremes
The pan-genre über-hack of the new Korean zeitgeist, Kim Jee-woon has been deft in some arenas: 2003's A Tale of Two Sisters suggests a nightmare endured inside a suffocating velvet pillowcase, while 2008's breathless The Good, the Bad, the Weird pioneered the fourth-gear lo-mein Western with such brio, you could feel Quentin Tarantino's zipper strain.
I Saw the Devil, which opens this weekend at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, doesn't lack for ambition--at nearly two and a half relentless hours, Kim's new film steals into the signature territory Park Chan-wook established, exhausted, and left for dead: the hyperbolic mega-revenge epic.
Oldboy's Choi Min-sik is Devil's shitstorm on legs, a bull-goose serial
killer with no psychopathology to speak of--hunted, tortured, and oddly
released over and over again by pretty-boy fed Lee Byung-hyun, whose
fiancée has been arbitrarily butchered. The I-have-become-what-I-beheld
dynamic is on the front burner, and in typical K-wave fashion, the duel
of wits and pain endurance stretches out to Sadean extremes.
good with nuance, Kim is a beast with disarming imagery (like the
severed head that turns face-up in a river current) but has few
resonating ideas, leaving the domino-tumble of brutality to become its
own tiresome spectacle.
-- Michael Atkinson
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.