Devils (2023) Film Review from the 27th Annual Fantasia International Film Festival, a movie written and directed by Kim Jae hoon and starring Dae-hwan Oh, Dong-Yoon Jang, Jae-ho Jang, Gwi-hwa Choi, Son Jong-hak and Shin Seung-hwan.
Devils, directed by Kim Jae hoon, is a South Korean action picture which is relentless, violent and immensely entertaining despite the abundance of graphic gore which saturates the screen during key intervals of the movie. Picture John Woo’s Face/Off and David Fincher’s Se7en mixed up together in a blender and you get the idea of what the new film is trying to do.
Opening with a series of expertly lit sequences, the movie will grab the viewer’s attention as it plays out its story of a no-nonsense detective named Jae-hwan (Dae-hwan Oh) who is trying to take down a vicious murderer known as Jin-hyeok (an effective Dong-Yoon Jang). The twist of the story line is that when they disappear in the woods for a month and return to society, they wake up in a hospital and have seemingly switched minds giving the movie a bit of a Freaky Friday vibe. But, don’t worry, there’s very little humor in this deadly serious action-thriller.
The rage that Jae-hwan has towards Jin-hyeok in his original body derives from the fact that Jin-hyeok killed Jae-hwan’s brother-in-law. Jin-hyeok has created snuff movies on the dark web and is a heartless monster of a character. Jin-hyeok is one of the most frightening serial killers that has graced the silver screen this decade.
Jae-ho Jang plays Min-seong, Jae-hwan’s wet-behind-the-ears partner. Jang turns in a solid performance as the one who is forced to try to piece together the puzzle which the film’s premise presents to the audience. As Jin-hyeok escapes in the body of Jae-hwan’s, the suffering begins for the character of Jae-hwan in a truly clever plot that will definitely make for some heavy, thought-provoking sequences that are properly sprinkled in-between the breakneck action scenes.
The tone of Devils is definitely a dark one. The movie is full of stomach-churning violence but it also has an abundance of plot twists that make the movie accessible to audiences who may not usually flock to a movie like this one. It’s very intriguing to watch the two main actors in this film perform as the other character. And, it’s also a challenge for the viewer to recognize the traits of the main character that the other lead star is trying to capture.
With that being said, the movie goes for broke in ways that are not necessarily satisfying in every way. Devils takes big risks and the payoffs will not necessarily please everyone. There are too many scenes of knives being stuck into characters and twisted in to inflict pain on the characters. Blood is usually visible too making the movie a little too realistic for its own good. There is a lot of plot development that requires some of this but the movie goes way over-the-top at times making it a little less fun than it could have been. It’s not that Devils is trying to be a fun movie. On the contrary. But, sometimes its lack of humor makes it so extreme that it occasionally becomes a chore to get through the wall-to-wall violence.
However, Devils works because of its two principal stars. Dae-hwan Oh and, especially, Dong-yoon Jang are fearless in achieving a tremendous feat of acting. These two characters are ones any action film actor would love to play because of the amount of skill that is involved for each performer to emulate the other. Though the movie is heavy, it is full of accomplished acting. Jang runs with this performance and makes it quite memorable. Of course, he gets to chew scenery as the key villain of the piece but Oh’s work is not to be taken for granted given its tremendous precision.
The flashy visuals and stylized action scenes will appeal to those who like the styles of John Woo, David Fincher and even Antoine Fuqua. The edits are as sharp as the knives the movie so frequently displays on screen. The movie moves from action scene to action scene at a fast clip making the film something of a visual feast for the eyes to behold if one can keep them open throughout the vicious brutality that dominates the movie. Revenge films are good but ones like this which turn the tables on audience expectations are even better.
Leave your thoughts on this Devils review and the film below in the comments section. Readers seeking to support this type of content can visit our Patreon Page and become one of FilmBook’s patrons. Readers seeking more Fantasia International Film Festival news can visit our Fantasia International Film Festival Page, our Film Festival Page, and our Film Festival Facebook Page. Readers seeking more film reviews can visit our Movie Review Page, our Movie Review Twitter Page, and our Movie Review Facebook Page. Want up-to-the-minute notifications? FilmBook staff members publish articles by Email, Feedly, Twitter, Fac