I Saw the Devil [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (25th August 2023).
The Film

"I Saw the Devil" <악마를 보았다> (2010)

While waiting for a tow truck as her car stalled on a snowy road, Joo-yeun (played by Oh San-ha) is attacked by Jang Kyung-chul (played by Choi Min-sik), a serial killer. Abducted, killed, and dismembered, the police eventually find her severed head in a riverbank. Her fiancee, Kim Soo-hyun (played by Lee Byung-hun) is an agent in the National Intelligence Service, and decides to take matters into his own hands by finding her killer before the police do and making him pay for what he had done.

Director Kim Jee-woon became one of the biggest names in South Korean cinema in the new millennium with a series a differing yet artistic feature films that were not only hits in his native country but also around the world. "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003) was a stylistically beautiful horror film with supernatural elements. "A Bittersweet Life" (2005) was a neo-noir gangster film filled with action and drama. "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" (2008) was a western inspired action adventure with insane action and fun comedic tones. For "I Saw the Devil", it would be the first time Kim would not pen the screenplay himself, but work from a script by writer Park Hoon-jung, which took inspiration from the South Korean serial killer dubbed "The Raincoat Killer", who murdered twenty people from 2003 to 2004. While there are also nods to filmmaker David Fincher with "Se7en" and "Zodiac", "I Saw the Devil" would take things in a slightly different direction compared to the standard serial killer drama. It's not just about the serial killer being one step ahead of the authorities, but this time the authority figure being one step ahead and playing mind games with the serial killer.

The character of Kim Soo-hyun easily takes down Kyung-chul in the greenhouse combat scene, but instead of arresting him like a standard officer would, he beats him until he passes out, then feeds him a tracking device. Not giving away his identity or giving a purpose, he only says that his life is going to get worse, and considering all the situations that Kyung-chul would eventually go through, worse might not be a powerful enough word. The amount of physical pain that he goes through over the next few days are grueling, though it doesn't always fall in Soo-hyun's favor. The morals are questionable in the actions of Soo-hyun's character, as it does seem like the emotional answer to try to get revenge, but is it worth torturing people, having more victims fall in the process, just for one person to achieve satisfaction? Though it is not just one person in this case. As Joo-yeon's father, the retired police officer Mr. Jang (played by Jeon Gook-hwan knows exactly what his son-in-law Soo-hyun is doing and approving his work by making the killer pay for his crimes in a way that the law would forbid. As Soo-hyun has access to spy-tech and he is quite agile with hand-to-hand, there really is no contest for the older and plumper Kyung-chul. But does have actual experience in killing, and during his time trying to run from the law, there are more casualties to follow.

While at first one might cheer at Soo-hyun's tactics to make the killer suffer more and more with each encounter, there comes a limit to how much one could take as revenge and how much it would take to be too much. Bashing his head over and over, slicing his ankle tendon, and the painful portions are quite graphic as well. But there is also more to the serial killer's side, as at one point he brutally kills two potential muggers in a taxi that is an incredibly choreographed and shot action scene. In addition there is a lengthy scene that he seeks help from fellow serial killer Tae-joo (played by Moo Seung-choi) who also happens to be a cannibal. There is no code of ethics to follow in the story, yet somehow audiences are glued to the story and what the eventual outcome will be.

Visually the film is incredible like Kim's previous features. The use of differing lighting techniques and camera techniques in differing scenes always makes things fresh and exciting, even if the subject matter is grim and painful to endure. "I Saw the Devil" doesn't have a lot of "good" characters within. The only person that may be seen as the voice of reason is the character of Se-yeun (played by Kim Yoon-seo) who tries to convince Soo-hyun and her father to stop their plans. Unfortunately he character is underseen and barely a part. It is a male-centric feature and most, though not all women are victims. There is the cannibal's girlfriend Se-jung (played by Kim In-seo) who is a mysterious soul, as she doesn't seem to be a cannibal like Tae-joo is, and even though her character does have more scenes in the original Korean cut of the film, most of her scenes are excised from the international cut. But in either version, there is little about the character and her purpose in the plot. This is one of the film's weaker aspects and that is the lack of leading females for a rounded perspective. Instead it is a machismo story of the strongest surviving as well as men not knowing how to handle their emotions, whether through mourning or in sexual desire. The complex issues are explored, but not as far as it could have gone with the story altogether.

As stated, there are two versions of "I Saw the Devil" released by the director. But before its release, there were censorship issues by the Korean media rating board, which stated that the version submitted was too violent and gory and had to be toned down for a general release. A press screening was scheduled for August 5th, 2010 but had to be delayed as they had to make changes to appease the censorship board. After some cuts for violence, the press screening took place on August 11th, and the film opened to the general public in South Korea on August 12th, 2010. For the next few months and into the next year as the film was entered into various international festivals, Kim decided to make some tweaks to the film by reinstating the violence that was removed, but also removing some character sequences in the process. While the original Korean version runs a minute longer, it is the international version that has more violent content.

The film received quite a lot of critical praise, though there were detractors due to the amount of excessive violence and the misogyny portrayed. It received quite a number of notices from awards ceremonies and festivals, nominated for 6 Grand Bell Awards and winning one for Best Lighting, nominated for 5 Blue Dragon Film Awards and winning two for Best Actor (for Lee) and Best Music. There were international wins from the Asian Film Awards, the Austin Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society Awards, and more with praise for the direction and performances. "I Saw the Devil" made quite an impression on actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who decided to work with Kim on his English language debut "The Last Stand" in 2013. "I Saw the Devil" takes the serial killer film and twists it into something unexpected in direction. It's certainly not for everyone with the excessive violence and the brutal nature depicted. But for the adventurous, it is a journey worth taking.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray


Umbrella Entertainment presents both versions of the film in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The film was shot on 35mm and edited and mastered digitally in 2K resolution. While Umbrella utilized 4K remastered transfers for their recent Blu-ray releases of Kim's features "A Tale of Two Sisters" and "A Bittersweet Life", "I Saw the Devil" seems to come from the existing Digital Intermediate masters, which is not at all a bad choice, as the film already looked quite exceptional in previous international Blu-ray releases. The international version takes up 33GB of the 50GB disc and looks excellent. Colors are vibrant and colorful throughout, with the bright whites of the snowy opening sequence, the dark hues of the grimy warehouse all are reproduced well. Detail is excellent and the image is always sharp.

But for the original Korean version, it has some issues as it is only given 7GB of space on the disc, which is close to DVD compression. It is presented in 1080p and looks fair, it does seem to lack the sharpness and detail due to the compression. Colors are still vibrant and is still visually great, it does look weaker in comparison to the international version on the same disc. If Umbrella had spread the two versions to two discs (like the South Korean Blu-ray release) it would have been an improvement. Though as the menu states, the Korean version is listed in the bonus features menu rather than a main feature.

The international version's runtime is 142:05 and the Korean version's runtime is 143:54.


International Version:
Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo
Korean Version:
Korean Dolby Digital 5.1

The international version has lossless 5.1 and 2,0 stereo tracks. The 5.1 track is excellent, with the center speaker focused mainly on dialogue which is always clear and clean while the surrounding channels are more for music and effects. The surrounding channels are always quite active, with music cues by composer Mowg sound excellent, as does all the effects from shattering glass, gunshots, car crashes, and other foley effects. The sound is well balanced and there are no issues of dropout or distortion to speak of.

Unfortunately for the Korean version, it only carries a lossy 5.1 audio track. It still packs a punch with the effects and music cues, but lacks the expansiveness of the lossy track.

The international version includes optional English HoH subtitles in a white font. Yes, this is unfortunately a hard-of-hearing subtitle track so there are times that it states a character's name at the start of a sentence. Hard-of-hearing subtitles should always be used for captioning the same language as spoken, and subtitles for foreign language films should use standard subtitles instead. In addition, there are a number of errors in this subtitle track. Sometimes there are no spaces within the words like "Ipromise" rather than "I promise" or "aboutanyone" instead of "about anyone". There are also a number of instances of names of characters and names of cities not being capitalized. While spotting and timing of the subtitles are fine, there should have been more quality control here.

The Korean version includes optional English subtitles in a white font. This time, the subtitles are correctly in standard form translating the dialogue which is a plus. In addition, there are no issues with spelling here and names and places are correctly capitalized. Curiously, the international and Korean version subtitles differ in translation. The international version's subtitles use American English ("flat tire") while the Korean version uses Anglicised English ("flat tyre"). Differences are not only with spelling and grammar but slightly different wording as well so they have been translated by differing translators. It should also be noted that the subtitles are in a different font as well, with the Korean version's being slightly larger in size.


Audio commentary by Kat Ellinger
This new and exclusive commentary has film critic and writer Kat Ellinger giving behind the scenes information about the film and a detailed analysis of the work. From the five month shoot, the unconventional shots used by Kim, the differences between the two versions, information about The Raincoat Killer, about the actors, and much more is discussed. She also talks about her initial reaction to the film, other critical reaction, and more for a detailed commentary with a lot of great information.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Making Of" featurette (18:59)
Presented here are a series of B-roll footage and behind the scenes material. Presented are shooting the scene before the second murder, Lee singing into his phone, the police search at the riverbank, and more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Interviews with the cast & crew (19:55)
A series of interviews with Kim, Choi and Lee are presented here. Kim compares the two leads and about their characters, Choi discusses his thankfulness and nervousness for his first role in four years, and Lee also talks about his character and the challenging role. The three are interviewed separately at differing locations, some being outdoors on set like for Choi while Kim and Lee are indoors.
in in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Deleted Scenes (24:56)
A series of deleted scenes are presented here. Included are a pre-credits scene of Joo-yeon leaving a church before her car gets stalled, a scene of Kyung-chul going through her belongings, the father-in-law at the police station, Soo-hyun on the phone with his in-laws, extended scenes with Tae-joo and Se-jung including a lengthier sex scene, and more. Time code markers are visible on screen and are taken from a standard definition source.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in windowboxed 1.85:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

"Raw and Rough: Behind the Scenes of 'I Saw the Devil'" featurette (27:07)
Presented here are interviews with various crew members discussing some of the action sequences with behind the scenes footage. Showcased are the motorcycle stunt and fight, the greenhouse scene, the climactic car stunt, and the taxi scene done in a single shot.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in windowboxed 1.85:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Trailer (1:45)
An English trailer for the film which has the title and text in English along with burned-in English subtitles for the Korean dialogue. The transfer is a little off, with the original image being slightly squeezed.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 2.00:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in English subtitles

There have been several editions of the film previously available on Blu-ray around the world. This Australian Blu-ray collects the deleted scenes and featurette found on the US Magnolia release as well as the interviews and featurette found on the UK Optimum and German Splendid Film releases. The Australian release is one of two releases that include both cuts of the film, the other being the South Korean release. The South Korean release from Blue Kino is a 2-disc set and has the two different versions on two different discs, so it has a better bitrate and transfer plus lossless audio for the Korean cut. In addition, it has a number of exclusive extras including two commentary tracks and featurettes. Though note the extras on that release do not include subtitles.


The disc is packaged in a standard keep case which has reversible cover art. The opposite side has alternate poster artwork and also lacks the R18+ rating logo on the front and spine.

It is also available in a Collector's Edition, limited to 500 copies exclusively at the Umbrella Web Shop which includes:
- Custom artwork slipcase
- "Evil Lives Inside" 48 page perfect bound book
- 8 artcards
- A3 reversible poster
- Hard slipbox

The slipcase for the keep case has newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch. The booklet includes a short introduction by Kim Jee-woon, short interview transcriptions of actors Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun and various members of the crew. There are notes from designer Colin Murdoch and conceptual designs for the newly commissioned artwork, a gallery of theatrical posters and additional stills. The artcards have high quality production stills and are printed on thick cards. The reversible poster has two differing American theatrical poster artwork choices and is folded and held in the keep case. This is all held within a hard slipbox which has identical art to the newly commissioned artwork found on the slipcase.

Packaging mistakenly states region B only and that the subtitles for the film are standard English subtitles.


"I Saw the Devil" is one of the more brutal and most unique of serial killer features, with excellent direction by Kim Jee-woon and powerful performances from Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik. Umbrella Entertainment's Blu-ray release has some good and bad though, it has both cuts of the film with a good selection of extras including an exclusive commentary, though the Korean cut of the film gets a second fiddle treatment and the subtitles on the international version have some issues. It is still very much worth seeing and not for the faint of heart.

(Note the overall for video and audio does not factor the Korean cut of the film and the overall score is lowered due to the above stated issues.)

The Film: A- Video: A Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: B-


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