|'by turns beautiful, viscerally violent, expertly lit and perfectly paced. There's even a smidgen of dark humour'|
I Saw the Devil, another in a long line of impressive genre flicks from South Korea, would be a lot more impressive if only it had been given a much tighter edit. Jee-woon Kim's film takes the interesting premise of having a serial killer (Min-sik Choi) on the loose at the whim of the policeman (Byung-hun Lee) chasing him, so that said policeman can continue to stop him and cause him pain, as revenge for killing his wife.
Said killing of the wife is Jee-woon Kim's film at its finest. Shot during a snowstorm and then moving to Kyung-chul's (Min-sik) grungy garage, the sequence is by turns beautiful, viscerally violent, expertly lit and perfectly paced. There's even a smidgen of dark humour (macho Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun) being caught singing), which seems to be compulsory in South Korean Horror and which Jee-woon uses judiciously throughout.
As the main plot kicks off though, the director seems to lose control of his narrative, as we watch Byung-hun catch up to his quarry and hurt him time and time again. By the time Kyung-chul makes it to a fellow murderer's house, along with his equally disturbed partner, you'll be ready for it all to just end, though the chaotic goings on inside are once again satisfying.
They don't though and, at one-hundred and forty-one minutes, Jee-woon lets the film loop back over and over itself far too often, before bringing Soo-hyeon, finally, to heel. I Saw The Devil almost always looks good whilst it does what it does, and the majority of the episodic instances of the two characters meeting are successful, but there's far too much of it to say it's successful as a whole on any consistent basis.