This movie has been staring at me right in the fucking face for months. It was at the top of my Netflix Instant queue ever since it was available, but I kept finding reasons not to watch it. The biggest being the subtitles and my inability to focus on anything because I’m kind of dumb. The reason I finally bit the bullet was because I had recently gone to theaters to see The Raid: Redemption (which was pretty crazy, if you’re into those action-y martial arts type movies) which featured subtitles. It helped me realize that reading subtitles wasn’t as big of a pain as I always think it’s going to be, which built up my reading confidence! Hoo-ray! And even though I posted this review in the “horror movie” category, I only did that because it’s got a lot of gore in it. It’s more of a revenge thriller, which are typically more tense than they are scary or creepy.
Must have been one intense sled ride.
There’s this nice, sweet couple who are planning on having a baby, when the pregnant lady gets raped and murdered as fuck by a psychopath named Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). The dad of that baby, named Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) happens to be a secret agent who is able to track down Kyung-chul, and rather than just killing him, tries to bring him the kind of torture that was felt when his wife and unborn baby were murdered. Soo-hyeon forces a tracking device down Kyung-chul’s throat to keep track of his whereabouts, and then Soo-hyeon goes on a catch/injure/release program with Kyung-chul, including breaking arms and slicing Achilles tendons. Kyung-chul realizes who is doing this to him and why, and goes on a hunt of his own for the remaining family members of the happy couple. After every sick and twisted thing that these two have done to each other, it’s ultimately Soo-hyeon who gains an “upper hand” and creates a makeshift guillotine for Kyung-chul that doesn’t go off until Kyung-chul’s mom, dad, and son show up. Their arrival is the final piece whose attempts to save Kyung-chul triggers the guillotine, so when they open the door, they are greeted by Kyung-chul’s head rolling across it.
This man hates plants!
Did you see how a few sentences I used the term “upper hand” and put it in quotes? That’s because it’s really not any sort of upper hand, because Soo-hyeon’s wife and child are still dead. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the titular devil in the film is Kyung-chul’s character, and we are mostly concerned with how far Soo-hyeon will go before he turns into someone as evil. The idea of finding the person who has caused you an incredible amount of emotional trauma isn’t really anything new, in fact, it’s old as shit. All those movies where we empathize with a main character who has been wronged and the viewer must decide what they’d do in that situation. The enjoyable part of this film is the fact that in most other movies, the moment where you question what to do with the person you’ve apprehended is typically a short-lived moment, and the resolution comes quickly, but instead we are shown those few scenes stretched out over almost the entirety of the movie. We see a sick and sadistic cat and mouse game being played, where you almost, almost have sympathy for Kyung-chul because of all the things he is forced to survive. Then we realize how good of an actor Min-sik Choi is and really convinces you how depraved the character really is and we go back to wanting him to be tortured even further. The movie did run a little long for a revenge thriller, and those typically aren’t the kinds of movies I’m drawn to, but I think this one might set the standard for ways you can innovate and surprise people within the limitations of the genre.
Wolfman Moon Scale