South Korea is not obsessed with revenge, though you’d be excused for thinking so if looking at films like Oldboy and Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance. These films typically have a brutal edge, but throw the audience a curve ball. At the end you may not be entirely sure who you support, because if Korean movies love to do anything it’s to question sacred cows that hold onto a black-and-white world. A great example of this is the serial killer thriller Public Enemy.
But the ultimate study from Korea about revenge has to be I Saw The Devil. The film has attracted a reputation as a cruel and bloody experience, though that is not really accurate. It’s not revenge porn or the stuff gore hounds live for. But the movie does cut deep, sinking its teeth into the ‘he who fights monsters’ trope.
A serial killer kidnaps and kills a woman he finds stranded, not realising her fiancee is a secret service type. This guy sets out to find the killer and, when he does, systematically harasses and tortures him. But the killer is also completely remorseless and the whole thing degenerates into a competition of who will blink first. This makes for a powerful movie and asks questions about how far will someone go for revenge and how much does that change them? Also, in their quest, how much damage do they end up doing themselves? It is a remarkably powerful cinematic experience, so there is no surprise that it has attracted the prospect of becoming a remake for Western audiences.
The I Saw the Devil remake is on. Almost a year after we heard two producers boarded the project, a new report says they’ve found their creative team. The team behind You’re Next and The Guest, director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett, are on board to write and direct the American remake of the 2010 Kim Jee-woon revenge thriller.
The Wrap broke the news of the I Saw the Devil remake. According to their report, Wingard and Barrett’s partners on their last two films, Snoot Entertainment, is producing and apparently this has been locked for sometime. Producers Adi Shankar and Spencer Silna are also still on board. Barrett is reportedly well into scripting and Wingard has already begun meeting with actors. And in their AMA, the duo confirm they’ve moved on from he other film they were attached to – Dead Spy Running.
These remakes can be a hit or miss. While I enjoyed Spike Lee’s version of Oldboy, it received a lot of flack from fans of the original, largely because they were a bit too precious about it. Still, I’ve used that movie to successfully introduce newcomers to the Oldboy world. I Saw The Devil has hardcore fans, but it has not been fan-huddled like Oldboy and as such probably stands a better chance.
But there is the problem with Western audiences expecting ‘happy’ films. I Saw The Devil is not a happy film. It is miserable and depressing. Will the makers of the new version stick to the original and risk alienating audiences? Or will they make changes that risk ruining this film’s carefully balanced spirit?
Here is the red band trailer for the original movie:
Last Updated: September 17, 2014