DID YOU READ

“I Saw the Devil,” Reviewed

“I Saw the Devil,” Reviewed (photo)

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Torture porn may have run its course in American cinema, but it’s alive and (mentally un)well in South Korea, a country whose brutal horror movies in recent years put ours to shame. The Koreans are kicking our butts when it comes to horror with both brains and guts. I’m referring to two different kinds of guts, by the way: the gooey, gunky, bloody kind of guts and the brave-enough-to-push-and-provoke-an-audience kind of guts. “I Saw the Devil” isn’t quite torture porn but it takes all of the core elements of that subgenre — graphic, sadistic violence, fundamental questions about decency and morality — and spins them into something better: entertaining, thought-provoking, and scary as hell.

The film begins on a snowy night on a lonely stretch of road where a vicious killer named Kyung-chul (“Oldboy”‘s Choi Min-sik) finds and then kills a stranded female motorist. As he drags her body away, the victim’s blood stains the snow a deep shade of crimson. Innocence has been spoiled, once and forever, and there’s no going back. That’s because Kyung-chul’s victim had a fiance and unfortunately for him he’s a special agent named Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun, best known to American audiences as Storm Shadow in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”). Soo-hyun works as a spy, reporting to the man who would have been his father-in-law; he gives Soo-hyun the fiance’s case file, announces he’s going on a vacation, and leaves his son-in-law alone to find his justice by any means necessary.

Eventually, Soo-hyun does track down Kyung-chul, but his thirst for revenge won’t let him just kill him. Instead, he begins stalking Kyung-chul, following as he searches for new victims. Whenever Kyung-chul’s about to strike, Soo-hyun interrupts, leaving him some new bruises and a serious case of serial killer blue balls. Kyung-chul recovers and the process begins all over again.

As this bloody dance between the two characters escalates, the film really begins to take off. Director Kim Jee-woon, who made “A Tale of Two Sisters” and last year’s crackling “kimchi western” “The Good, The Bad, The Weird,” knows how to manipulate an audience. He’s not interested in making a classic cat-and-mouse chase where the outcome and the viewer’s allegiance is never in doubt. Instead he creates a sort of cat-and-equally-scary-cat scenario, and invites us to react as we see fit. Kyung-chul is an unrepentant, inhuman murderer. But Soo-hyn’s not much better. So who do you side with? You can’t even really root for humanity in general, since almost every character in “I Saw the Devil” turns out to be a psychopathic killer, right down to the random taxi driver who picks up a hitchhiking Kyung-chul and just happens to have a dead body in the trunk of his car.

Jee-woon’s not the first guy to hypothesize that a man might have to become a monster in order to defeat a monster. But with the film’s unrelenting pacing and visceral action sequences, there’s very little time to dwell on the clichés. Just as he did in “The Good, The Bad, The Weird,” Jee-woon nails that irresistible mix of compelling characters and inventive fight and chase choreography. He’s also uncommonly good at building interesting worlds for his deranged heroes and villains to do battle in: the Eastern Western frontier of “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” and now the dark, sinister landscape of “I Saw the Devil,” all remote houses in the woods, empty nighttime roads, and menacing meat lockers. This movie makes a very strong argument for vegetarianism.

Jee-woon starts from a place we have seen before — somewhere between “Saw” and “Death Wish” — but the journey from there is uniquely his. His two leads are perfect foils for one another. One’s homely, the other’s handsome, but both are equally terrifying, an obvious but effective statement on the way that evil comes in all shapes and sizes. So do movies, but most aren’t this good.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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