Country: SOUTH KOREA
South Korean filmmaker Jee-woon Kim continues to enjoy a remarkable level of distribution in the West. His latest film I Saw the Devil was paraded around the festival circuit, before receiving relatively wide distribution in the both the US and the UK. Kim first emerged as a name of note with his debut film The Quiet Family (1998) a comedy/horror film which was loosely remade in typically excessive fashion by Takashi Miike under the moniker The Happiness of the Katakuris (2002). Although interesting, his debut film was left in the dust with the release of A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), a stylish psychological horror film clearly inspired by the popularity of J-horror. This excellent film was remade in America as The Uninvited (2009). The result was a predictably desultory and pathetic re-imagining bled dry of all the aspects that made the original so engaging. Kim confirmed his generic utility with A Bittersweet Life (2005) and The Good, The Bad and The Weird (2008). The former a wonderfully energetic, but incredibly violent gangster movie, and the latter a sprawling western adventure inspired by Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. All of these films have received above average distribution for South Korean films, which is a testament to Kim’s ability to craft generically satisfying material that still manages to push the boundaries of the form. In comparison to his previous films, I Saw the Devil is significantly less interesting. It is not a failure, but it is perhaps Kim’s first stumble, in a career that has thus far been very impressive.
© Shaun Anderson 2011