By: Gabriel Eldorado (A Toast) –
Revenge is one of the more fascinating aspects of human nature. The intrinsic desire to get even is one of the most empty and ruthless emotions yet the need for vindication is something that drives nearly every person in some fashion. While achieving or attaining revenge is an obsessive and slightly maniacal action, watching someone else slave for it is one of the most entertaining plot lines that film offers and for some reason no does revenge lately like the Koreans(before this their only claim to fame was the Kia, so, hurray for progress). With all this being said, a gruesome foreign thriller is possibly one of the worst choices for my sparsely occurring “date night. I learned this the hard way (it’s the only way I learn apparently) and for your reading pleasure will detail my interchange with my date in parallel to the plot happenings. However, keep in mind that at times my charm shames Casanova himself so note taking is encouraged:
(The discussion before the movie began):
Her:” Let’s watch the The Switch”
I do not want to get laid so bad that I would sit through this. Yet.
Me:” I would rather watch my mother’s video of her birthing me on loop for the entire duration of The Switch, then ever watch that wretched piece of cinema.”
(She does not respond in laughter, rather looks at me like I have an ungodly amount of boogers hanging from my nose. So far, my chances of getting lucky are dwindling. )
Me: “What about this? It’s called I Saw the Devil; it’s just the Japanese version of that movie that came out, Devil. Remember? You told me you wanted to see it? It’s way better and plus you should always see the original, just a film rule of thumb.”
I was tricked by this cover. See, to me this screams romance. Doesn’t it?
(Clearly, I missed the seminar about honesty when dating someone but I am too pleased with what I consider to be a clever ruse.)
(YESSSS!!!!!! She fell for it. I am an idiot for not really thinking this one through.)
I am figuring I Saw the Devil will start like most foreign films and at worst have her bored twenty minutes in and at best too engaged in the plot to turn it off when the violent parts start to unfold. As for the film starting out slow, I was horrendously and offensively wrong. I Saw the Devil opens with a woman stranded in the snow with a blown out tire.
Me: “Women Asian driver’s amirite?” (Forced chuckle) (Good job, just insult two categories of people, way to go dipshit.)
(I am clearly starting off with a homerun.) Back to the film, after declining a man’s offer to help, the women sits waiting patiently for triple Korean symbols while eyeing the good Samaritan’s car when suddenly her passenger window is smashed in.
Her: (jumps and scream waaay louder than necessary.)
After the very violent and bloody struggle, we see the women inside a murder basement (WHERE ARE ALL THESE HOUSES WITH THESE MURDER DUNGEONS?!) draped in plastic tarp, naked, and, covered in her own blood. I assume she is dead but suddenly she begins to gasp for breath and the assailant comes over to her and pulls off the tarp.
“It comes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. It is in an excellent school district, oh, and did I mention that it has a great room downstairs to chop up your victims discreetly?
Her: What do you think he’s gonna do to her?
Me: “I am not sure”( I, having seen a movie before and possessing the critical thinking capacity to figure out this girl is shit-out-of-luck, keep silent and nod to the screen)
The woman is now pleading for her life, telling her attacker to spare her because (dramatic pause) she is pregnant.
Her: “Gasp! Do you think he will spare her? Oh god, please don’t kill her, you don’t think he will kill her do you?”
The film cuts to the woman (presumably) all cut up and arranged neatly in those big plastic buckets my mom used to keep for our toys, a world of uses for those things, so handy.
Me: “No I think he killed her.” (scoring major points tonight)
Her: complete silence
Me: “But on the bright side, that is some great product placement for the container store? Right? You love that store! You can’t even “contain” your love for that store” (Should I give up dating forever?)
She glares at me and I turn back to the screen, more or less apathetic. As we come to find out, the murdered women was engaged to the equivalent of the secret service agent and he is not thrilled that his soon-to-be bride has been murdered. The rest of the film follows our protagonist as he searches for his fiancée’s killer to exact his revenge, in a very clever/creative way that only Asian filmmakers seem to conjure up.
The rest of my date plays out in silence as the girl I invited over becomes more and more offended by my choice of film. She stayed the whole time, but left immediately and since never texted me. So you’re welcome Movieboozer audience, I sacrificed my love-life to bring you this review. The least you could do is like it on Facebook or something, ungrateful bastards.
To nearly every aspect of this film. I Saw the Devil is not perfect, but it comes pretty damn close. With stunning and engaging cinematography, I Saw the Devil moves at a pace that would make Michael Bay stop for breath and does this for nearly 2 and half hours. Not once did I feel myself bored or felt that the film drug out its plot, instead I felt concern for the main character and what the result of his quest for vindication would be. My date felt nauseous but clearly her opinion doesn’t matter. It looks beautiful and has a score that even the most pedestrian of viewers would take notice of, but what makes I Saw the Devil great is the insight into what happens to humans when they crave revenge.
So many revenge films lose sight of their main character’s, for lack of a better word, righteousness and essentially turn him (or her) into something akin to what the villain originally was, but I Saw the Devil realizes that and keeps our protagonist self-aware and emotive instead of cold and distanced like most films do. At times, we see him become the monster he is hunting but he always manages to come back down to reality and become aware of the pain that drives and haunts him.
Beer Two (OPTIONAL)
I put optional for the general viewing public because not everyone has a steel stomach and many will find I Saw Devil graphic to say the least. If each individual act of violence is not enough to turn your stomach, the constant barrage of blood and gore will make the most solid of viewers a tad queasy. There is not one scene except for the funeral of the fiancée that doesn’t have blood in it.
However, if you have the stoic nerve to process the unbridled carnage then I Saw the Devil is one incredible film that shouldn’t be missed and certainly, if you are fan of Oldboy, I Saw the Devil should be required viewing.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time someone gets bludgeoned on the head.
Take a drink: every time someone sustains massive injury and still lives.
Chug a Beer: every time the violence gets too brutal for you to handle.