SPOILER: Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a dangerous psychopath serial killer. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state. Her fiancé Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer.Written by
The international cut did away a lot of sequences the director regarded unnecessary and added all the scenes banned by the Korean censor board, yet it's the Korean cut which runs longer than the international one. See more »
The title card unfolds with a scene in the background. See more »
In the end, the background music played is different in both the Korean and International versions. While in the Korean cut, the BGM that plays is emphasized and said to be forming the film's definite ending. In the International cut, the BGM is less emphasized and instead, the hero's crying voice is heard, ending the film with focus on the character. See more »
First and foremost, much of this movie borders on, for lack of a better word, the obscene. There are plenty of scenes that bring to mind soft-core pornography, and the violence is incredibly gory and at times, over the top. Some of the actions performed on screen will make most viewers squirm uncomfortably, while a vast majority of those that aren't will let the audience's mind drift to some very, very scary places.
In short, its a visceral thriller. The movie is essentially driven by both lead characters trying to inflict as much pain and terror in one another as possible. Unlike most serial killer/crime thrillers, both the two characters collide (in violent, brutal fashion) with one another many, many times, leaving each other bloodied and eager for the next encounter. During these scenes, the movie takes on an unexpected action tone, with plenty of engaging fights that include knives, scythes, screwdrivers and in one scene, a fire extinguisher. In between these scenes the audience is shown the full depravity of the serial killer's psychopathic nature, who pretty much succeeds on setting the bar for on screen insanity.
If this sounds like a mindless action/thriller summer film, you'd be mistaken. Both Choi M.S and Lee B.H deliver great performances, with Choi in particular acting disturbingly convincing as a completely unhinged maniac. The plot, although somewhat predictable, is nonetheless entertaining and once set in motion, incredibly gripping. There are plenty of cheap "boo! gotcha" scares, but some scenes are masterfully crafted to generate a LOT of tension. Believe me when I say that there were plenty of scenes where you could literally see that the rest of the audience wasn't even breathing, much less moving. As mentioned earlier, the action scenes are shot surprisingly well, and there's a certain pleasure to be derived from watching the hunter become hunted... and in such an exquisite, effective and merciless manner.
On an aside, the movie seems to have remake potential with Hollywood production. Perhaps starring Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr. (as a serial killer? wouldn't you be terrified?), with maybe... Danny Boyle at the helm? Hopefully the movie does well enough in its release to receive any considerations.
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