Friday, June 17, 2011

Jee-woon Kim: Revenge is For the Movies (I Saw the Devil)

     Magnet Films, I Saw the Devil, 2011

Taking pages from the cinematic thriller notebook, powerhouse Korean genre helmer Jee-woon Kim has crystallized the art house shocker, throttling the audience emotionally and mentally in his sickly brilliant new film, I Saw the Devil.

His picture is a slow burn that randomly comes to a boil, piecing together thriller genre staples, existential dread and horror flick ghoulishness. To say that, cumulatively, his itinerary is wicked while wonderful is an immense understatement. Kim has demonstrated that he has a firm grip on genre mastery with his recent films. With this creation, he is proven as one of the great directors working on the international scene.

Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi both give towering turns that entrench us in the minds of two very different yet similar men. The dance of death between a grief numbed cop(Lee) hellbent on revenge, and a psychopathic serial killer(Choi) has never felt so urgent as contained within these celluloid walls, besmirched by the terror of the everyday and the unknown, smeared by bleeding blacks. Lee and Choi are peerlesly breathtaking.

The screenplay, cinematography and musical score all come together hauntingly, at Kim's disposal to weave this all into an ethereal daymare. Obvious influences on the plot would be Death Wish,Blue Velvet, Silence of the Lambs, and Seven. But aside from the spiritual camaraderie of Winner, Lynch, Demme and Fincher, the look and feel of the completed work is all Kim.

Step up, lay back and let the sheer discovery of thrill wash over you, for Kim is unrivaled in recent memory for combining art and genre.

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