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I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boattda)

Movie Details

I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boattda)
  • Genre: Suspense/Thriller
  • Release Date: 2011-03-04 NY/LA
  • Running Time: 144 min.
  • Director: Ji-woon Kim
  • Cast: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi
  • Producer: Hyun-woo Kim
  • Writer: Park Hoon Jung
  • Distributor: Magnolia Releasing
  • Official Site: I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boattda) Official Site

The pan-genre ├╝ber-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 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 fiancee 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. Never 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

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