Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty
These films produce a taxonomy of violence. A violence so categorical, so inhuman, that it betrays the truth, following a line of resistance.

Let's start with "I Saw the Devil", the trailer of which you can view above. The story begins rather straightforward, and is based on a certain Greek historicity, but it soon evolves into a complex, as yet undiscovered, terrain.

Here's the official tagline of the film: "When his pregnant fiancee becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge."

Make no mistake about it, though, it's not revenge that's depicted. Instead, this film usurps the logic of revenge, accessing a realm of pure, unfiltered violence. The eldritch brutality of "I Saw the Devil", for example, is deafening in its rapturous and unrestrained, abandoned vitality and horror.

On a quest to punish the serial killer, played by the marvelous Min-sik Choi, our secret agent, Kim Soo-hyeon, loses himself in the search for _______. It's not redemption. It's not honor. It's not revenge. He tortures himself as the monster he wishes to punish.

At first blush, it may seem like a slight variation on an age-old theme, but there's something else at work, in this cinematic pièce de résistance. In a tonality of sheer madness and graphic horror, a certain laughter bursts forth: surgical, illogical, monstrous.

Aviolence so unrestrained rage, but a raw and visceral appeal to the beautiful. Despite the horror, and the rage, and the savagery, that is depicted in both of these films, they each manage to escape a certain logic of revenge. They achieve a state of pure violence, a violence devoid of what is often referred to as, justice. Reason cedes way to passion and madness.