|A pictoral representation of the spectre of Oldboy leaning over the film|
In this film however Min-sik knows exactly what he is being punished for – the rape and brutal murder of a former police chief’s daughter and fiancée of a Korean special agent.
What follows is a dangerous and sadistic game of cat and mouse as Kyung-hul is hunted by the Terminator-like Kim Soo-hyeun, who will not stop until he has his vicious revenge.
It is a fascinating study of evil with large helpings of gore and violence (sliced tendons, broken fingers, cracked skulls, etc) delivered with skill, style and a dash of humour as black as the hearts of the protagonists. Yet it is not just violence for violence sake.
Who is the proverbial devil of the title? Who is the real monster? The sadistic serial killer or a man driven to violence by the pain of loss? These questions will stay with you long after the end credits role.
The two lead actors are excellent and deliver performances that lift it out of what could have been a mere exploitation movie. Min-sik switches between goofy and sadistic at the flip of a switch, creating a truly malevolent screen villain whose cool exterior slowly crumbles under the pressure of the hunt, banishing any thoughts of the sympathetic Oh Dae Su from the mind. Byung-hun plays it more internally, keeping everything bottled up inside. His vengeful lover has a face of stone but his eyes reveal a window to his soul, telling the true story, which makes his emotional catharsis towards the end of the film all the more powerful.
|Byung-hun didn't agree with Min-sik's choice for the Palme D'Or|
Denied a proper cinematic release due to its extreme content (it was only on at the ICA in London) but is really worth checking out on DVD available in most good DVD stores or probably much cheaper online!