Viewed – 13 June 2011 Blu-ray
In recent years, South Korean cinema has begun to steal the limelight from it’s Japanese neighbours with a slew of acclaimed thrillers, more often than not in the revenge subgenre made famouse by Park Chan Wook’s much-hyped Vengeance Trilogy (Oldboy, Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and Lady Venegance). These brilliantly made thrillers pushed the envelope when it came to on-screen violence and remain three of the more disturbing movies available. Directed by Jee-Woon Kim (A Tale Of Two Sisters) this follows the story of a Police Detective who vows revenge against a brutal serial killer after his wife is kidnapped and murdered. Yet spinning the concept on its head, rather that just tracking down and arresting the killer, he plays a game of catch and release in an effort to place the killer in the same suffering and pain the detective’s wife experienced.
Starring much acclaimed character-actor Min-sik Choi (Oldboy) as the serial killer and Byung-hun Lee as the Detective, this is one of those movie’s that goes for the jugular almost from the off and tests your tolerance for violence and gore whilst questioning your moral standing on right and wrong. Kim’s movie is expertly shot with some gorgeous cinematography and stylish camera work throughout – even if at times what the camera lingers on isn’t comfortable viewing. The score too, is very powerful and creates a suitable feeling of dread and despair. The two leads deliver powerful performances and once again Min-sik Choi is simply amazing in probably his most unrelenting and demanding role to date.
The story is gripping when it comes to the confrontations between the detective and the killer, and at no point do you not feel totally immersed in both character’s plight, yet some of the Police procedure bits and some of the ideas are plagued with plot holes that left me a couple of times wondering ‘how did he know that?’ or ‘why did they do that?’. If however you are willing to forgive this, then the skill behind and infront of the camera still enriches the action and made this viewer gasp and squirm repeatedly … and with some clever twists and turns along the way, this one ended up delivering on it’s blood-stained promise regardless.
So seek this out at your earliest convenience – but I’ll warn you, it packs a punch.
Verdict: 5 /5
- Film Review: I Saw the Devil (2011) (themodernallegory.wordpress.com)
- Lady Vengeance (2005) (myfilmviews.wordpress.com)
- Slash and earn: the blood-soaked rise of South Korean cinema (guardian.co.uk)
- Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance (2002) (myfilmviews.wordpress.com)