This Korean shocker fulfills all your expectations regarding Korean Horror films. There’s plenty of onscreen violence and lots of gore FX. But it goes a couple of steps beyond expectations with its story and with its performances. This one is as good as they get.
“Whoever fights monsters must be careful, lest in the process he becomes a monster himself. And if you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss will look back into you.” Thus warned the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. That’s what this movie is about. It’s everything about it. In terms of the plot, a serial killer murders a young woman at random. She turns out to be the wife of a government agent. This agent then takes a couple of weeks off work to hunt down the killer, but not to murder him. He wants to make him suffer. The result is a cat-and-mouse game with escalating stakes, with the two—and at this point the “good guy” is getting dangerously close to not being all that different from the bad one—seeking to one-up each other. Choi Min-sik of OLDBOY plays the villain (be on the lookout for his cannibal sidekick!) and Lee Byung-hun, who was (unfortunately for him) in the G.I. JOE movies and TERMINATOR GENISYS, plays the lead. These are two phenomenal talents performing an acting pas de deux. (It makes it all the more depressing that Lee has done such lousy American films.) I SAW THE DEVIL was directed by Kim Jee-woon with the script by Park Hoon-jung.