This blog contains a film SYNOPSIS - spoilers and plot points are revealed throughout. Where personal reservations on film details are concerned, you peruse at your own discretion.
Sure, it's not exactly old, but Akmareul boatda [I Saw the Devil.] (2010) is one of those psychological/gore thrillers too awesome and brilliantly executed to go unnoticed or fall into obscurity.
It opens with Joo-yeon (San-ha Oh) speaking to her fiancee via cell. She had been driving alone at night on ice-slicked roads when her minivan slid onto the shoulder, becoming wedged against the rail guard.
It isn't long before a stranger (Min-sik Choi) appears at her window, to see if she needs help. Reluctantly, Joo-yeon allows the man to check out the extent of the damage, and finds that her tires are flat, among other things. Thoroughly creeped out by this man, Joo-yeon claims she appreciates the aid, but prefers to sit and wait for the tow truck to arrive, since they're already on their way.
A few minutes pass and the mysterious man, who had pulled over in front of her, doesn't give any indication he's ready to leave. Joo-yeon clicks on her headlights to get a better view, when suddenly the man appears outside her window again, and forces himself inside, beating Joo-yeon with a tack hammer.
She awakes later, wrapped in plastic and on the stone floor of some garage-like area, where the strange man - sharpening his knives and smoking a cigarette - had dragged her. It appears as if he plans to literally hack her into pieces, and she pleads for her life, claiming she's pregnant and has to live.
This makes no difference to the deranged killer, though, who promptly chops her up limb by limb, before going to work hosing down the area and moving to dispose of the corpse.
The next day, a little boy is picking through various overgrowth beneath the overpass bridge when he comes across a random plastic shopping bag. Curious, he checks inside, only to horrifically behold a cleanly-cut outer ear.
By that evening, the area is packed with no less than a 50-man search team, scouring the place for any sign of clues or evidence. An old man appears, and argues with police over his missing daughter. As it turns out, this guy was Special Det. in Charge of Violent Crimes for over 30 years - and now, more than ever, the victim's rescue is the top priority.
Yet almost immediately, two men come across what appears at first to be human hair, but what turns out to be the floating head of Joo-yeon. That poor old man...
By now the press and search team are swarming like mad ants over this discovery, and control of the crowd is so lax one forensics specialist is even knocked to the ground, prompting Joo-yeon's head to fly out of the box and roll over the grass. That poor, POOR old man...
And in the middle of everything, witnessing the scene with utter shock and appall, is Joo-yeon's fiancee, NIS Agent Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee). It's through the old man that the two met, and were only engaged a few months before this harrowing event.
The funeral service was predictably full of heartache and promises of revenge. Soo-hyeon promises Joo-yeon the man responsible will be made to feel a pain 10,000 times stronger than any he had ever inflicted, and tells his boss he'll only be taking 2 weeks off in place of the few months he was urged to spend in mourning.
Meeting with the old man, Soo-hyeon learns the identities of four men on the criminal list for similar offenses, and through a link to a separate division, secures himself a mobile GPS and capsule mic - and immediately goes to work.
The first dude was in the middle of some pretty interesting porn when his power suddenly goes off. Turning around, he finds a very mad Soo-hyeon holding the cord, and proceeds to get beaten, strangled, and tied to the chair. Unfortunately, though, this man claims to know nothing of the minivan or the circumstances surrounding Joo-yeon. But that doesn't stop Soo-hyeon from beating his junk to a pulp with a claw wrench.
At the hospital a short time later, a group of cops find that the man has "confessed" to several previously unsolved crimes, though they can't seem to figure out why he's banged up, or whether they (for some reason) believe someone else had smashed his cock n' balls.
"Some guy hit his penis with a hammer badly"
The second man is dealt with pretty straightforwardly, in comparison. Cruisin' on his little motorbike, Soo-hyeon appears on the road to knock his ass off of it, and beats the living hell out of him. Later that night, he removes the man's mugshot and wrap sheet from his operations board; we can only assume Soo-hyeon ended up putting him permanently out of commission. He attempts to simply go to sleep, but is nagged awake by his thoughts instead. No, it isn't the pull of conscience that rouses him, but the obsessive drive to immediately study the appearance of the next vile man on his list...
In the meantime, our killer is back in his yellow extended van, prowling the streets for a new victim. He catches sight of a young woman standing alone at a bus stop, seemingly unsure as to whether or not she arrived too late in the evening to catch a ride home.
Foolishly, she accepts a lift from the man, who pulls over onto a deserted roadway, brandishes a tire iron, and beats the woman unconscious. This time around, he decides to utilize a homemade guillotine to chop her up before treating us to a little ditty on his guitar.
The next day, Soo-hyeon arrives at the last known address of the third man, who's name is Jang Kyung-chul, and is greeted by the guy's mother. He uses the excuse of being an insurance agent needing to verify his identity since there are other men with the same legal name in S. Korea. The mom is able to say with certainty that Kyung-chul is indeed her son, although she's frightened by his appearance in the photo.
Just then her husband awakens from his nap and the two argue and bitch with each other on how audacious it is their son would up and leave home years before, leaving them with his now preteen son, and inquire as to whether or not they receive any money in the event of his death.
Meeting the child of this man Soo-hyeon knows is the guy, he asks him where it is his father now resides. Wasting no time, he walks right into the place, breaking restraints on a heavily-guarded file cabinet, where Soo-hyeon uncovers a series of random bras, cell phones, makeup, perfume bottles, and various other victims' items.
He then notices a ripped-up hole in the wall, its other side revealing a large cement-floored storage area of some sort. Blood stains still remain near the drainage grating, where Soo-hyeon recovers Joo-yeon's engagement ring...
The next afternoon, a school teacher informs a familiar-looking academic van's driver not to dilly-dally on the ride to drop the kids off. It's Kyung-chul!! And now the police team are too late. Demanding the school secretary call the driver immediately back to the building, Kyung-chul's cell goes off en route, and a hunch tells him he's found out.
Rather than taking the last little girl home, he decides to drive her to a new location, a greenhouse/plant storage building, where he attempts to rape her.
Fortunately, Soo-hyeon had thought ahead and used the tracking device / GPS to follow the killer, and busts in to save the little girl before any damage could be done.
What ensues is a major battle between the two men, involving the use of a sickle and knife - on Kyung-chul's part.
Subdued, Soo-hyeon finds the opportunity to smash the prick's head in with a large rock to end it... but instead, he administers the mic capsule, and Kyung-chul wakes to find both the Agent and his intended victim gone, his left hand and wrist broken to the point of non-use, and a large amount of cash in a folded paper on his chest. What is going on??
Why did Soo-hyeon break Kyung-chul's wrist and hand but not kill him? Why in the fuck did he leave the killer cash? What antics are next for everyone's favorite psycho serial killer? Find out in the synopsis continuation...