Magnet Releasing presents “I Saw the Devil” (140 minutes. Not rated – for Mature Audiences Only), a shockingly violent and stunningly accomplished tale of murder and revenge from Korean genre master Kim Jee-woon, opens March 11 at Landmark’s Lagoon Cinema in Uptown Minneapolis.
The film stars Choi Min-sik, his first big screen role in five years, as Kyung-chul, a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. The embodiment of pure evil, he has committed horrifying and senselessly cruel serial murders on defenseless victims, successfully eluding capture by the police.
On a freezing, snowy night, his latest victim is the beautiful Ju-yeon (played by Oh San-ha) who is both the daughter of a retired police chief and the pregnant fiancée of elite special agent Dae-hoon – played by Lee Byung-hyun.
After getting a flat tire on the highway, Ju-yeon talks with Soo-hyun on the phone as she waits for a tow truck. But she gets mercilessly murdered by Kyung-chul and becomes the reason for vengeance and punishment.
A veteran actor with more than 20 years as a leading film actor, Lee Byung-hun’s role as Soo-hyun stretches his limits as a man after bitter vengeance on the killer of his fiancé. In addition to his range of emotions he offers exciting action sequences.
Obsessed with revenge, Dae-hoon decides to track down the murderer, even if doing so means becoming a monster himself. And when he finds Kyung-chul, turning him in to the authorities is the last thing on his mind.
The lines between good and evil fall away in this diabolically twisted game of cat and mouse. Pushing the concept of revenge to its most extreme limits, Kim brilliantly transcends the police procedural and serial killer genres in surprising and thrilling new ways.
Director Kim Jee-woon films tend to warp genres and styles or create new ones to draw viewers in for a new and exciting movie-going experience. Just as The Good, The Bad, The Weird turned the western on its ear, and A Tale of Two Sisters twisted family drama in to intense horror, his latest film I Saw The Devil twists social norms and conventional wisdom in perhaps one of the most violent and elaborate revenge stories ever on screen.
Kim said the two characters mercilessly attack each other for revenge, but he wants the audience to question why some people lead normal lives while others live like the devil – where everything can start to go wrong and where are we headed at that point.
“I wanted to watch the primitive energy that arises out of the clash of mad rage like an active volcano and icy-cold lunacy,” said Kim. “I wanted to see the fiery match-up between actors Choi Min-sik, who is hot like a ball of fire, and Lee Byung-hun who shows no limit to giving detailed expressions.”
With this film the hero becomes the criminal with a focus on the characters rather than a mystery of finding the criminal. The details of a journey of vengeance go beyond all realms of sanity.
The realistic and brutal violence is one of the most explicit displays of violence ever seen on film. It strikes at the heart and senses with maximum intensity. As with Kim Jee-woon’s horror, comedy, noir, and western films, this story of vengeance is yet another exciting addition to this visionary director’s oeuvre.
Lee Byung-hun said at first he thought his character Soo-hyun and the story were simple.
“But I was dead wrong,” said Lee, noting it was very difficult to express the change in emotions involving vengeance – which is sometimes explosive and at other times ice cold.
“I tried hard to show his underlying sadness and rage through each transition,” said Lee. “I hope the audience can relate to Soo-hyun’s changes and feel that his somewhat intense actions are the result of such emotions within him.”
As Kyung-chul, Choi Min-sik said the character is just not human and was born pure evil. “Since I’m the one who portrays him, I tried hard to pull out the dark, evil, violent behavior deep within me,” said Choi. “It was hard to play someone who feels no guilt, reason, or remorse for his actions.