It doesn’t get any sicker than this. The serial killer has an array of horrible looking knives and cleavers, and he is slicing the girl up like a side of beef. Worse – it can get worse? – she is pregnant and fiancé Soo Hyun (Lee Byung Hun) has no idea that the tow truck didn’t turn up to fix her flat tyre, but the serial killer did.
Sik? You betcha
When all the police manage to recover is her severed head, grief stricken Soo Hyun takes two weeks off work as a secret agent to find the killer and wreak vengeance by making him suffer endless pain as she did. To help him in his quest, he has his secret agent skills, some nifty tech, and help from his fiancé’s dad, an ex-cop, who provides him with profiles of the four main suspects.
Normally any movie with Lee Byung Hun is a pleasure to watch – raaaooowww!
Did I say it couldn’t get sicker? Wrong. The school bus driving, female flesh carving rapist Kyung Chul (Old Boy’s Choi Min Sik) is way, way nastier than it gets. Soo Hyun finally catches up with him, but instead of despatching him to Hell on the spot, which would have gotten the movie over and done with not a moment too soon, Soo Hyun shoves a transmitter down Kyung Chul’s throat and proceeds to follow and torment him with increasing venom. Wouldn’t a small pill shaped foreign body in the gut pass in the fullness of time out the back passage? Don’t ask, you just don’t want to know.
Not only is Kyung Chul a raving nutcase, it turns out that his best mate, with whom he seeks refuge, is Hannibal Lector, even crazier than he is. But he is smart enough to see that Soo Hyun is also becoming deranged by the pursuit – ‘the birth of a monster enjoying the hunt’, as the flesh munching nutter puts it. Oh, yes, it does get worse. At least in Old Boy, Min Sik had the viewer’s sympathy, as the hapless victim being tortured for reasons unknown – here he is still being tortured, but by crikey, he deserves it.
And yet again he draws a character so compelling, so compulsively watchable, that he keeps you pinned to your seat like a butterfly in a glass case, giving an occasional feeble flutter, and watching until the last horrible act of revenge is carried out. As the pursuant, Lee Byung Hun is magnificent, cold and relentless only until the last frame.
Watch it again? Not on your life. This one gets handed on, like the tape in The Ring, to give someone else nightmares.