I Saw the Devil Stretches to Sadomasochistic Extremes
|Photos courtesy of Magnet Releasing|
I Saw the Devil, which opens this weekend at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, doesn't lack for ambition--at nearly two and a half relentless hours, Kim's new film steals into the signature territory Park Chan-wook established, exhausted, and left for dead: the hyperbolic mega-revenge epic.
Oldboy's Choi Min-sik is Devil's shitstorm on legs, a bull-goose serial killer with no psychopathology to speak of--hunted, tortured, and oddly released over and over again by pretty-boy fed Lee Byung-hyun, whose fiancée has been arbitrarily butchered. The I-have-become-what-I-beheld dynamic is on the front burner, and in typical K-wave fashion, the duel of wits and pain endurance stretches out to Sadean extremes.
Never good with nuance, Kim is a beast with disarming imagery (like the severed head that turns face-up in a river current) but has few resonating ideas, leaving the domino-tumble of brutality to become its own tiresome spectacle.
-- Michael Atkinson