Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
Already have an account? Log in here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
No user info supplied.
This movie is not for the squeamish, or the faint of heart. Censors claimed it was offensive to human dignity. These were the kinds of things they told the audience at the world premiere screening of the Uncut Version of I Saw the Devil at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. I had heard the movie was pretty graphic, but I never expected that it would push any boundaries. I turned out to be only half right.
After finding out his fiancée has been brutally murdered, secret agent Dae-hoon (Byung-hun Lee) is at a loss. With the help of his father-in-law, he sets out on a revenge plot to find the man who did it. He quickly finds the culprit, Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). He beats him pretty badly, but instead of killing him, he leaves him alive. He wants to stalk his prey, and exact his revenge slowly and increasingly more painfully.
Going in with very few ideas of what I was about to see, I was startled and thrilled at the tenacious audacity on display from the opening scene all the way until the final frames. The film is a gritty, merciless experience that could never be truly recreated in North America. This is the kind of hard-boiled revenge thriller you could only find in Korea. And to hear that even the censors there could not handle Kim Ji-woon's complete vision makes the film all the more uncompromising and astounding. It has taken me well over a week to try and come up with the words to describe and review the film, but never once have I forgotten anything I saw. It is quite simply, unforgettable.
I was right in assuming the film would not push the boundaries of what can be shown in regards to graphic violence and gore. But it comes really close. It makes Park Chan-Wook's entire Vengeance Trilogy look about as violent as the Toy Story Trilogy. Blood sprays, flies, drips, gushes - every verb or way blood can possibly flow out of the human body occurs over the course of the film. It relishes in it no matter if the shot is raw, unflinching and real, or hyper stylized and completely over-the-top. One sequence involving a brutal double murder as the camera swoops around the scene in a circle is simply magnificent to watch, both to see how much blood is spilt and for how wicked and incredible a shot it is.
The revenge tale at the core of I Saw the Devil is not all too original, but it is the story and idea around it that is. Very rarely do we see a film with two characters that start off completely different, but very slowly become all in the same. Dae-hoon and Kyung-chul are both very stubborn individuals, who will not back down from each other. They just keep at each other, and even as Kyung-chul is continually beaten, abused and victimized, he never once lets up. I keep coming back to a comparison with Batman and The Joker in The Dark Knight, and how those two menaces push each other to their physical limits, and that is exactly what happens in this film. While it was easy to pick sides in Dark Knight, Ji-woon makes it increasingly difficult for the audience to figure out who they should sympathize with here. It is a haunting and blatantly moral-defying story, and its raw and emotional undertones are more than difficult to swallow.
But the key problem I found with the film is Ji-woon's lack of ability to know when to cut. There are easily twenty minutes that could be chopped right out of the film, and none of its edge would be lost in the process. I was glued to the screen for the majority of the film, but found myself checking my watch more than once because I was totally baffled as to why it runs over 140 minutes. There is only so much revenge one can take and comprehend, and having the film run so long makes it all too easy to call out as being self-indulgent. I respect the film, and I respect Ji-woon as a filmmaker (I wanted to seek out the rest of his film catalogue immediately after the lights came up), but it just makes such an incredible movie feel a bit sloppy and weakened as a cohesive package.
Another inconsistent element is Lee's Dan-hoon. We never learn much about him outside of his being a secret agent and wanting to inflict as much pain as he can through his revenge scheme. So how are we to assume he was not a sick and twisted individual in the first place? How are we to know this is not his first time inflicting such a painful revenge? He rarely speaks, and his cold, calculating eyes never once give us a hint of any further development. It is a great performance by Lee, but it is one that feels very underdeveloped - outside of some rather obvious sequences.
But then, anyone would look underdeveloped when standing next to Choi. The man gives a performance that is the stuff of legend. He was incredible as the lead in Oldboy as the man who was wronged, and is even better as the wrongdoer here. He brings out the monster in Kyung-chul all too easily, and his riveting performance is unmissable. The transformation into this disgusting, psychopathic creature is nothing short of amazing. He chews up scenery at every turn, and is magnetic on screen. Nothing even comes close to equaling the power, intensity and dare I say authenticity he puts into this character. He is the stuff of nightmares.
Old Boy is one of my favourite films. As far as I can see, no amount of superlatives could explain quite how much I love it. After my first viewing, (all on my lonesome) I realised I probably hadn't blinked during its entirety and I could quite possibly have been burgled during its course and been none the wiser, such was the extent to which I found it totally and utterly engrossing. Obviously a review consisting of very little other than me spewing praise would be a fairly dull read which was why I never bothered to review Old Boy until after my second viewing, with my Po'. My father being the eternal sceptic that he is turned out to be an extremely worthy person to watch the film with, and his response to it opened my eyes a little as to why I love it that much.
The plot itself is as follows. The protagonist Oh Dae-Su is one day captured and finds himself locked up in a makeshift prison. After a brief spell of anger and spewing hatred for his captors, he resigns himself to his fate, and after 15 years of shadow boxing and suicide attempts he wakes up from a gas induced coma on top of a tower block where he was initially seized. He then proceeds to try and find out who did this and why, and the film basically charts this quest.
The first word that springs to mind when thinking about this film has to be graphic. There are certain scenes which will make those of nervous disposition recoil until they are firmly wedged between the back and seat of their sofa, and they are likely to spend much of the film there as violence is frequent. In most of the extreme cases it is simply the implication of violence and the viewer's imagination when left to its own devices like this will cause its own disgust. This hurdle was a huge thing problem for my dad, who considered some of the violence to be gratuitous, which I can somewhat agree with, although certain scenes are completely integral to the plot. The best way I can justify these scenes is simple. It is all about sending a message, and these do just that. If you can cope with this then you will break down the initial barrier the film leaves lying in the way of your enjoyment.
Many of the themes you will pick up on and the method of direction is very synonymous with Quentin Tarantino. There are devices used in this film which have obviously taken inspiration from Tarantino's works, in particular the Pulp Fiction- esquire use of camera angles, and the famous dotted line sequence. However, Tarantino is himself a huge fan of Old Boy, being its main advocate to win the 2003 Palme d'Or (where it eventually lost out to Fahrenheit 9/11) and has stated Park Chan-Wook as an influence for his directing style on the Kill Bill series, as well as on his later grindhouse works Death Proof and Planet Terror. Chan-Wook takes on a policy of "trust the director", and leaves many questions throughout the film which gives it a somewhat disorientating feel at times. This method of directing can seem quite inaccessible, however all loose ends are tied up very satisfactorily in the enthralling and shocking climax. This is an ending to rival the classic Kaiser Sozé twist in the tail of The Usual Suspects.
What really separated and elevates Chan-Wook's work above and beyond Tarantino's however is very simple. Much of Tarantino's work is undertaken as an exercise in direction and film making, and therefore his work can therefore feel shallow. Old Boy however is a film which assesses the deepest corners of the human heart. The middle of three films which make up Chan-Wook's Vengeance Trilogy it is undoubtedly the masterpiece, with a more powerful message than Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. This film has power because of the depths to which it explores the flaws and forces the human heart possesses, stronger and more destructive than any wisdom can overcome. The performances of the main cast and most importantly the director to send this message to the viewer leave this film as about as close to perfection as I can see any film getting.
Let me Just say our monster movies are horrible and A*P*E is a clear example of that and D-War. We can't make Kaiju films
unlike the Japanese i can't deny that, but A*P*E is a fucking insult to my culture and country. Point being there are so many mistakes and errors its just not funny.
Its IMBD score is so low they wont even put it in the bottam 100.
You Rip-Off King Kong and add my my country (Korea) you get A*P*E or in my country "The Great Counterattack of King-Kong" this 3D Z-Grade film.
I will sum it out........A*P*E escapes from a ship (No mention on how they found him). He fights a big rubber shark that doesn't even move.......He picks up a snake and throws it and attacks Seoul and cars blow up without them even touching it.......Then they kill A*P*E and he says...
"He is just to big for a small world like ours!"
That's it and the whole film. And the errors and flaws are seen so easy and such as...
-There are holes in A*P*E's costume and can be seen easy.
-He changes Size throwout the film...1 minute he is only small...The next he towers overall all these high buldings.
-The shark is dead...Who the fuck can not see that?
-He throws a rock and it hits the ground missing the car and it still blows up?
-A*P*E doesn't even growl likly it was forgotten to be put in later in Post-Production.
The acting is horrible and the effects...The only good part about this film is its somewhat not boring story.
I close by saying...I hate this fucking film.
After a bit of a leave i am back writing reviews right now and its been a while at most. Before i start i would like to think while my country (South Korea) hasn't made any decent or good animated films?
In the 80s there was this massive Rave on animated Rip-Offs and we were in front with such classics as...
"Phoenix King" (The low grade and especially rips off Mazinger Z, Ippatsuman, Space Cruiser Yamato, Mobile Suit Gundam). Despite it i use to watch it when i was young.
"Space Gundam V" (This ultra Low Budget shit feast i just bought on DVD for no reason, This was brought out becuase of the Korea media ban on Japan.)
And now after years of trying we finally have "Empress Chung" decent at most and just trageted at children...But the animation and idea is orginal and very good. At least now broth states of movie my country worked on this not just south.
Like any Disney adventured In the 18th century, Shim Chung is the good-natured daughter of old government employee Shim Hakku, a loyal and honest man who works for the king. One day, he refuses to join some sinister ministers who are conspiring against the sovereign, so they... In the 18th century, Shim Chung is the good-natured daughter of old government employee Shim Hakku, a loyal and honest man who works for the king. One day, he refuses to join some sinister ministers who are conspiring against the sovereign, so they set fire to his house. He loses his sight, and all his family members die except his daughter Chung. Hakku also becomes very poor as a result of the conspiracies. Fourteen years later, Chung lives in the countryside with her father Hakku. She is the favorite girl in the village. She loves her father so much that she is willing to do anything which will help him regain his sight.
The story and movie can kind of drag on but the refflections to my culture are good enough...kind of like miyazaki with enough refelctions to Japan.
I will just keep it short...the animation is very good (Like Ghibli style) The action is decent along with the direction and i think by the end this is one i could watch again one day.
I close by saying we have made something decent.
If you go back to 2007 there was this really big line up for a new film getting promoted in my country and was made there called D-War. And director Hyung-rae Shim blockbuster was being promoted everywhere.
If you're not quite familiar it is a film that appeals to our nationalism and culture and it cost a stuttering more than $70 million, and my first thoughts where "Don't be Crap" And with the mixed to very negative reviews I was reading I still had hope... And of course I was it opening day like so many and walk out hunted by what I saw.
So just because it was made to succeed in my country or even America doesn't make it good... In a matter of fact it was even worse.
One tends to always think our country was positive on this... No we weren't at all. If anything 45 million other people thought the same thing.
Look how about I just pan out the film for you... Awful acting from our American cast (That occupies the whole film). A horrible story that in same way might not even have anything to do with the legends I was told when I was young.
Though impressive Ground breaking Special Effects that can't make up for this plain awful fucking film.