This week I am honoring 2011 and what a great year it was for film by making my movie of the week the best movie of 2011.
My movie this week: I Saw the Devil! The best movie of 2011 and the 2nd best Korean-style revenge film made.
For those of you who don't know, the Korean-style revenge film is a type of film (obviously made popular in Korea), that focuses on two characters who are sparked by a single event on a path where atleast one character is consumed with the demise of the other. They also involve alot of themes that deal with mixed consequences, such as how the thrill of vengeance is offset by the personal pain it causes or how violence naturally leads to more violence.
I like this sub-genre because its not incredibly cultural, despite originating in Korea, or pretentious like many other foreign films popular with snobs. They are great character films no matter what angle you look at them and are some of the best films out there when it comes to tension and atmosphere. Trust me, if you can get over the fact that the film is subtitled, you will be on the edge of your seat the entire film.
I Saw the Devil follows the story of Soo-hyun, a federal agent in South Korea, and Kyung-chul, a serial killer who preys on women. One night Kyung-chul encounters Soo-hyun's fiancee with a flat-tire, decides to kidnap and murder her. At that point, the film becomes a cat and mouse game between Kyung-chul and Soo-hyun as Soo-hyun attempts to ruin Kyung-chul's life of decadence, indulgence, and violence.
What makes this film so unique is that it isn't told like many others are. I Saw the Devil follows the 'villain' of the film, Kyung-chul, and the tension is created when Soo-hyun intervenes in his life. Doing things like beating him almost to death after stopping a rape Kyung-chul was about to commit. Despite following the villain, it still does this wickedly wonderful job of making Kyung-chul unlikeable and Soo-hyun sympathetic and human.
The film builds a universe where you constantly don't know what is going to happen next, when Soo-hyun will ambush Kyung-chul next and what Kyung-chul plans to do to enact revenge as he slowly pieces together who Soo-hyun is and how Soo-hyun keeps track of him. This ultimately culminates in a climax that is a complete release of this tension, to the point of being a film orgasm, while simultaneously being emotionally complex. It brings the film to a fantastic close.
I Saw the Devil is an absolutely phenomenal film and I recommend it to everybody as a great example of what makes a good film, good. Everything is done well in this film. I say it is the Best Movie of 2011 for a reason.
NOTE: This is the most graphic movie I've recommended yet. Films of this ilk are naturally violent. This one moreso because one of the characters is a serial killer and you do witness some of his crimes. Just keep in mind that, while this film is violent, it doesn't revel in it.
I always point to these types of films when I talk about effective uses of violence, as not a single violent scene in this movie is without purpose to the overall plot. You never feel dulled to the violence even though the main characters may be. Whats more is these movies always nail home a good message about how violent acts have consequences.