Monday, January 2, 2012
4. I SAW THE DEVIL (AKMAREUL BOATDA, 2010)
The first produced screenplay of Park Hoon-jung, who has since become a director (THE SHOWDOWN), I SAW THE DEVIL deserves instant recognition as one of the great murder dramas, up there with IN COLD BLOOD and ZODIAC, and it's harder to watch than either of them. Like most American films made about graphically violent crime, it's magnificently photographed but, unlike them, it refuses to glamourize the dangerous and insane or their vicious acts. The only times Kim permits himself to execute truly stylistic tours de force with violent setpieces is when men alone are involved. (One, staged inside a moving taxi cab, is really extraordinary.) Though women are brutally treated in the course of the story, he is careful that we never feel complicit in the sadism directed at them; he is required to milk the suspense of their danger and dread but he does not dwell on the details of their pain. Instead he expertly arouses feelings of protectiveness and responsibility toward these female characters, one of whom (played by Kim Yoon-seo) is specifically left vulnerable by the hero's (Lee Byung-hun, also riveting) blind vendetta against the madman responsible for killing his pregnant fiancée. Some may find fault with the fact that the story telegraphs everything that is going to go wrong, and everything does, but this device also works to give the story the classical familiarity and resonance of a much-told tale, meaning that its moral has proved very hard for people to learn. If an American remake is inevitable, I think Harvey Keitel should tackle this. Lyrically scored by Mowg.
Viewed in HD via Netflix.
at 7:33 AM