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I Saw the Devil(2010)
A secret agent tracks a serial killer who murdered his fiancée.
For more about I Saw the Devil and the I Saw the Devil Blu-ray release, see I Saw the Devil Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 26, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Choi Min-Sik, Chun Kook-Haun, Chun Ho-Jin, Oh San-Ha, Kim Yoon-seo
Director: Kim Jee-woon
» See full cast & crew
I Saw the Devil Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 26, 2011
Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Korean director Kim Jee-woon's "Akmareul boatda" a.k.a "I Saw the Devil" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; TV Spot; standard making of featurette; and interviews with director Kim Jee-woon and actors Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun. In Korean, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked". Please be advised that the film contains disturbing footage that is not appropriate for minors!
Korean director Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil is about two very angry men. One is a psychotic killer (Choi Min-sik, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance), the other a government agent (Lee Byung-hun, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, IRIS). Their paths cross after the dismembered body of the agent's pregnant fiancée (Oh San-ha, The Most Beautiful Goodbye) is discovered under a bridge.
The emotionally devastated agent requests two weeks off and immediately begins searching for the killer. His father-in-law (Jeon Kuk-hwan, Secret Reunion), a seasoned cop, provides him with detailed information about four men who could have killed his daughter. One of them turns out to be the real killer. The agent breaks his right hand and lets him go. Then all hell breaks loose.
The point I Saw the Devil argues is that every man has a dark, notably violent side that - under the right circumstances - could be exposed. After witnessing the type of pain its main protagonists inflict on each other, it is indeed very difficult to argue otherwise.
The film is loosely divided into three uneven sections. In the first the killer and the agent become aware of each other and then meet. The killer also realizes that he has a worthy opponent who has a plan for him, while the agent slowly comes to terms with the fact that his life has been irreversibly damaged.
In the second section the two men make important discoveries. Both also become hunters, though their targets are different. They clash and hurt each other, and a lot of people around them die. The agent also makes a crucial mistake.
The third and final section is incredibly brutal and bloody (there is plenty of blood/red paint in the other two sections as well, but things get really messy here). The finale isn't surprising but it is certainly very effective as the message is indeed loud and clear.
Director Jee-woon is definitely a talented man with impressive imagination - his A Bittersweet Life and The Good, the Bad, the Weird prove that he isn't afraid to experiment - but as far as violence and gore are concerned he appears to have reached his limit. After I Saw the Devil even a partial attempt to go a step further will likely result in various legal troubles (his film has already been censored in more than a few Asian and European countries).
The raw violence aside, the film has a wonderfully polished look. Light and shadow, for instance, are carefully used to create an incredibly tense atmosphere, while the fast camera cuts and zooms give the film some good pacing.
Byung-hun and Min-sik's acting styles are incredibly different. The former exudes cool confidence and style that make his character easy to like; the latter is a wild man with unlimited energy whose anger outbursts look remarkably real.
The uncut version of I Saw the Devil runs at approximately 144 minutes, but it never drags. The script is very good and the editing excellent. The film also benefits from a heavy, very moody soundtrack courtesy of Korean bass guru Mowg (Planet B-Boy).
Note: Last year, I Saw the Devil was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Earlier this year, the film was also screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
I Saw the Devil Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
Aside from some mild sharpening and edge-enhancement that pops up during a few of the more brightly lit scenes, and especially when the color blue is prominent (see screencaptures 7 and 8), the film looks very good. Fine object detail and clarity are very pleasing, while contrast levels are always consistent. Heavy aliasing and banding do not plague the transfer. I also did not see any traces of heavy noise reduction. Color reproduction is excellent - the variety of greens, browns, yellows, grays, and blacks are always rich and well saturated. Blown through a digital projector, the transfer also conveys pleasing depth - even during the nighttime footage - and tightness. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
I Saw the Devil Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Korean LPCM 2.0. For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
I Saw the Devil is complimented by a delicate but very effective soundtrack courtesy of Korean composer Mowg, which the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track treats exceptionally well. The deep, heavy and lush sound opens up the entire film and enhances the tense atmosphere very well. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts to report in this review. The English translation is excellent.
I Saw the Devil Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I Saw the Devil Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I Saw the Devil is a very dark and very violent Korean film that blends style and substance quite well. Yet it isn't easy to recommend because the violence in it is indeed rather overwhelming. Take a look at some of the official trailers and teasers its distributors have released if you wish to see it but are not entirely sure what to expect from it. For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment's Blu-ray contains the uncut version of the film. RECOMMENDED.
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