With the recent rise of south Korean cinema, an SK cinema cult following has been gaining popularity over the years due to films like oldboy, a tale of two sisters, the host, memories of murder etc. etc. And while I was considering reviewing those specific movies, I wondered, where's the fun in giving praise to movies that are already considered some of the greatest movies of the decade? So without further ado, here are some really great South Korean films that of which may not be as well known as other SK films due to bad/no word of mouth.
'Bedevilled' tells the story of a not so nice lawyer who finally accepts an invitation from her childhood friend as part of her work holiday to go to her home island of donmoo. When she arrives on the island, she instantly notices the 8 other townsfolk (excluding her friend) doing inhumane acts to the childhood friend in question. She gets forced to do all the work on the island, gets beaten up by her husband, kicked around by her piers and other ridiculously inhumane things I'd rather not get into due to spoilers. It isn't until a traumatic event happens later on in the film, where the woman reaches her breaking point and causes some serious (for a lack of a better word) shit to go down.
Before I splooge all over this movie, (saying that in context with the movie kinda grosses me out funnily enough) I need to stress this. I will never watch bedevilled again. And I'm the type of person who watches 'requiem for a dream' and 'happiness' repeatedly. Yeah. Anyway, now it's time for the gushing.
Based on just a technical level alone, this film is astonishing. There isn't a single frame of this movie that feels redundant and every actor does a fantastic job of helping create this harsh and unbearable environment, not only for the main characters, but also for the viewers.
And while this film is extremely hard to watch throughout, (people of the faint of heart, ye be warned) you won't be able to take your eyes away from this movie. Both in terms of how insane it gets and just how damn intriguing the whole thing is.
If you find yourself wanting to have an excuse to hate the human race, (or just want to watch a damn fine movie) do yourself a serious favor and see 'Bedevilled'.
Next up... 'Haunters':
Okay.... Here is basically the plot of haunters without me spoiling the surprises this film has to offer. Imagine 'Akira' mixed with an Alfred Hitchcock-esque man on the run story with an infusion of a hyper violent South Korean revenge film and a hint of something similar to the awesomeness that is 'Attack the Block' (except with adults instead of troubled teens) and you've essentially got 'Haunters'. Oh, and I forgot something else integral to what makes this film, and that's a PUNCH TO THE FACE FULL OF AWESOME! (I'm sorry, that term made literally no sense whatsoever).
So yeah, that's about all I have to say about 'Haunters'. I know this might seem extremely lazy and vague of me, which it is, but the last thing I want to do I spoil all the joy I got out of this movie that comes from knowing nothing about what happens.
So you're gonna have to trust me on this one, and watch this movie however you can completely blind (not literally, I mean, I don't want to advocate any of you stabbing your own eyes out at all, unless your Timmy.... and if you're reading this Timmy, I'll get you for what you did GODDAM- oh, sorry, sometimes I uh.... MOVING ON!) so you can enjoy the pure bliss that is, 'Haunters'.
And now we're down to the final pick, and probably the best of the bunch, and that is... 'I Saw the Devil':
I Saw the Devil tells the story Kyung-chul (played by Min-Sik Choi a.k.a Oh Dae-su from 'Oldboy') and Kim Soo-hyeon (played by Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee). The former being a deranged serial killer and the latter being a traumatized cop mourning over the brutal death of his fiancee, performed by the crazed serial killer in question. So what Soo-hyeon decides to do is beat Kyung-chul sensless with an inch of his life left, send him off to hospital to get patched up and come back repeatedly to put Kyung-chul through a living hell.
I don't say this lightly, but 'I Saw the Devil' is one of my top 20 favorite movies of all time. Now that may sound like a response that a guy/girl who can count their favorite movies on one hand in order of how good they are would conjure up, and said list may consist of 'Baby Geniuses 2', 'Cop Dog' or anything the MST3K guys have butchered to death but the hypothetical person I'm talking about loves it without a hint of irony. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with being one of those people, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, justified or not. So basically what I'm trying to get at here is that I love movies more than anything in the world and that I'm going to have justify the hell out of why I think this is one of my favorite movies.
First off, the two main performances, are no short of breathtaking. Both actors emote so much through just facial movements rather than words and from what dialogue they have, they express every ounce of emotion they're characters are going through out of little more than a sentence. Which as far as I'm concerned, would be pretty damn excruciating to pull off.
Now, what actually makes this film special is how it makes the tired and cliched cat and mouse serial killer sub genre feel so new and fresh. Not only does it do it with the script, but also with the beyond stellar direction, astonishing soundtrack and mind-blowing cinematography. All of these elements combine to create such an involving, heartbreaking, sad, disturbing film where, by the end, I burst into tears.
With all of those compliments being said, I still feel I haven't given the film enough justice, and maybe I never will. But that's probably a good thing. We can always pick apart what makes any average film bad or good, but when you decide a particular film is one of your favorites, you're left at a blank as to how the film blew you away as much as it did. Maybe the film just spoke to you on a personal level and emotional level. And I can say without any hesitation whatsoever, that I Saw the Devil is one of those movies.
While the film may not connect with you, It sure as hell connected with me. And even if you hate the film and will forever hate me for suggesting it to you, that's okay, because 'I Saw the Devil' is one of those films that will always
hold a special place in my heart.
My dark, twisted black void of a heart.