Bedevilled

 

Bedevilled

Written by Choi Kwang-young

Photography by Kim Gi-tae

Music by Kim Tae-seong

Produced by Park Kuy-young

Directed by Jang Chul-Soo

Theatrical Release: 2010

 

Cast:

Seo Young-hee

Ji Seong-won

Park Jeong-hak

Baek Su-ryun

Lee Ji-Eun

Je-Min

Bae Sung-Woo

 

Production Studio:

Theatrical: Filma Pictures & Tori Pictures

Video: Well Go Entertainment

 

Video

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD25

Feature Size: 21.24 GB

Bit Rate: Low-Moderate 18~25 Mbps

Runtime: 116 minutes

Chapters: 11

Region: A

 

Audio:

Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

 

Subtitles:

Optional English

 

Extras

• Behind the Scenes - in 4:3 SD (12:45)

• Well Go Trailers

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case: BRD x 1

Street Date: October 9, 2012



The Movie: 8

Whatever we might feel about the substance or worth of this movie, there can be no doubt that its international title “Bedevilled” is just plain awful.  This is not a horror movie.  There is nothing supernatural about the events portrayed.  Nor does it correctly describe the protagonist or her state of mind.  Even so, the Korean Blu-ray slipcover adds that title over the Korean original.  The disc case itself omits it.

 

Now try this title on for size: “The Whole Truth About the Murder of Kim Bok-nam”.  For this is pretty much how the Korean title - Kim Bok-nam salinsageonui jeonmal - translates.  The title seems direct and simple, but in fact, it is very sly.  Westerners might anticipate that such a title would have suggested a murder right off the bat and the story about the killing told in flashback.  But when we are introduced to Bok-nam thirteen minutes into the movie, she is very much alive, and remains so long enough to eke out the most graphic and deserved punishment that any woman treated as she will be over the next hour has ever had the fortune to find in a movie of this genre.  The “Murder” of the title therefore applies more so to what she endures as how she is finished off.


     

 

The movie begins with another woman altogether, Hae-won, played with icy stinginess by Ji Seong-won.  Hae-won is a city girl, with a city job and a city apartment.  She dresses neatly but sexlessly.  Emotionally she is wrapped as tight as a person expecting imminent death by strange and unknown forces.  We don’t learn until well into the movie what is behind all this, but for now we see only the result: Hae-won is a loan officer who snaps at a client so rudely that her boss insists she take a long vacation.  As if living another life, she is called as a witness to a beating by the police but she is unable or unwilling to identify the perpetrators.  She is as afraid as she is angry.  Her mail piles up at home unopened. She is as isolated as she is beautiful, for all the good it does her.


     

 

Hae-won decides to visit her childhood friend, Bok-nam, who lives with an extended family on a remote island visited only by boat in an unscheduled service.  Far from the idyllic vacation she had hoped for, Hae-won finds her friend is held in a kind of prison where she suffers mistreatment and humiliation from every quarter - even to some extent by her ten-year old daughter, who suffers abuse of a different kind.  I’ll forego a catalogue of the relentless emotional and physical cruelly heaped upon Bok-nam; suffice to say that Hae-won is reluctant to come to her rescue as we might expect – or wish.  There is, indeed, something else afoot here.  And it isn’t what you think.


      US Well Go

     

      Korean DS Media

     

 

Bok-nam is played by played with aching tenderness, despite the cruelty relentlessly visited upon her, by the remarkable and generally undervalued Seo Yeong-hie, whom you might remember as another hapless victim in the excellent Korean thriller “The Chaser.”  I understand that Young-hie herself suffers from the kind of neglect that only a beauty-addicted culture like South Korea – even more so than Hollywood, if you can imagine such a thing – could inflict, and since she doesn’t fall into the proper category of face and shape, she is not granted roles that her talents, which are obvious, deserve.


     

 

“Bedevilled” is a smartly crafted movie, well-written, with outstanding performances all around, especially by its protagonist.  And while we are drawn into Bok-nam’s character by virtue of the pain inflicted upon her, Hae-won who is no less interesting, even if less compelling by virtue of how she distances herself from everyone.  The director, Jang Chul-soo, who, no surprise, once worked as an assistant to Kim Ki Duk, draws out the tension beyond the breaking point, making Bok-nam’s retribution – I think that’s exactly the right word - as inevitable as it is just. I feel it would be a mistake to think of what she does as revenge, nor is the film just another slasher film.  But make no mistake, the cruelty, graphic and otherwise, is unbearable, but necessary since Bok-nam must act out for us else we would not be able to face the day. Bedevilled is not the sort of film you are going to want to watch a second time anytime soon.  That said, if you can hold out until the end you may be surprised by how heartbreaking it is, especially the scene between Bok-nam and Hae-won in the jail cell.


      US Well Go

     

      Korean DS Media

     

 

Image: 8/9

Well Go does a nice job of conveying, depth, detail, vibrancy of golden hued colors.  Transfer artifacts and enhancements are not a problem.  I can’t help but think this movie might have looked a bit denser if Well Go had opted for a dual layered disc with a substantially higher bit rate.  I could be wrong, and a more fully developed transfer might not be any better.  Word is that the UK release on Optimum is transferred to a BD-50 (I rather doubt it, but I have no sample to confirm) as is the Korean release, both with English subtitles, though the Optimum subs are burned in and appear within the frame.  The Korean DS Media BD is very expensive, though it does include an audio commentary, alas unsubtitled.  I have also read somewhere on line that it is fifteen minutes longer.  Not so.  Same length and content.  In any case the Korean DS Media BD file is only 15% larger at 24.95 compared to Well Go’s 21.24.  The bit rate is higher, however: 28 Mbps vs Well Go’s 20.  The DS Media does seem to have more density, is ruddier and more saturated, with slightly greater contrast that gives the illusion of increased sharpness.  The Well Go’s color palette is more natural, but the DS Media is more lurid.


      US Well Go

     

      Korean DS Media

     

 

Audio & Music: 8/9

Evidence that Bedevilled is no horror or routine slasher flic is demonstrated by its relatively reserved soundtrack: clear, well balanced, but rarely taking advantage of the surrounds nor generating effects for their own sake, at least not for the first half of the film anyway.  Even the slicing of blade into flesh, though it has that familiar steely ripping sound, does not make up leap off our chair – and is all the more frightening because it holds back.  The music is so tasteful you might not even be aware of it.  The calm over the closing credits is paradoxically peaceful.


     

 

Extras: 2

The Behind the Scenes bonus feature that let’s us have a peek at several scenes in rehearsal is the same 4:3/480i as found on the UK and Korean Blu-ray editions, except that the subtitles are are not forced – which they are for the Optimum UK Blu-ray feature film as well, and don’t seem to exist at all on the Korean BD.


     

 

Recommendation: 7

I find the Korean BD wins for image quality, but I can attest that the Well Go, selling for a third the cost, makes for the better value.  Don’t much care for the cover art – the poster is much better - but the Korean BD is not much better.  There’s not much in the way of bonus features, but unless you understand Korean, you won’t find more elsewhere (The Korean BD adds a TV Spot).  Winner of all sorts of awards for its debut director and leading actress, Bedevilled is strangely compelling, considering how relentlessly oppressive it is.  If you’ve been weaned on Kim Ki Duk and Park Chan Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, you should be able to find your way around this movie well enough.  Recommended.


      Well Go

     

      Korean

     

 


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

October 6, 2012

 

 

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