I Saw The Devil Was A Challenge Kim Jee-Woon Couldn't Resist

"I Saw The Devil" is one of those movies that changes you after you watch it. While it's a stretch to say that it changes your life forever, it's undeniable that Kim Jee-woon's 2010 thriller shakes you up a bit. I know I certainly denied the help of strangers in public for a little while after I watched it for the first time.

The film is largely considered to be one of the best thrillers of the 2010s, and a good part of this has to do with Kim's stellar direction. This shouldn't be surprising if you have seen his other work, such as "A Tale of Two Sisters" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Weird," but much of the terror in "I Saw The Devil" specifically derives from how cleverly paced the plot and reveals are. It is a steady build of dread and despair, which is why it is still talked about in genre circles to this very day.

However, it served as an important challenge for Kim's career. While he is known for his vengeance-centric films, he told Bloody-Disgusting in 2011 that he signed on to direct the film to explore that hallmark in a brand new way.

"What interested me about the script was that even though it was about revenge, it was dealing with revenge in a different way than previous vengeance films I had dealt with," he said. "There [were] new ideas in it that I was interested to take on."

A real complete revenge

Kim Jee-woon's explanation for taking on "I Saw the Devil" is straightforward enough, but is out of character for the South Korean filmmaker. Kim usually doesn't direct scripts that he hasn't also worked on, which makes this film something special. Out of the nine feature-length films he's directed, only three weren't written at least partially by him. "I Saw The Devil" marked the first time this happened in his career, with the script being written by Park Hoon-jung. The screenwriter's other credits include 2013's "New World" and the "Witch" film series. As for Kim, he said that he was introduced to Park's script while in production limbo on an undisclosed project.

"While I was seeing what could be done in the meantime, [Choi Min-sik], the serial killer in this movie, brought the script to me saying that there was a very good script that I might want to take a look at," Kim explained, "and I read it, and it was a very powerful, very raw story, and it was a challenge that I was eager to take on."

And thank goodness that he did. Without the sleek direction of Kim, who knows if "I Saw The Devil" would be as fondly remembered as it is today? Maybe those final 10 minutes, often regarded as the highlight of the film, wouldn't be as impactful or heart-wrenching as they are. Thankfully, we don't have to think about that theory, because the movie we got was in the best possible hands.