Bedevilled (Blu-ray) (2010)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
|Year Of Production||2010|
|Running Time||115:55 (Case: 112)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Chul-soo Jang|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||
Korean DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
Korean Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Bloody Revenge Will Begin!"
Seong-won Ji is Hae-won, a young and attractive but self-centred bank employee in Seoul, South Korea, who witnesses a violent assault but declines to cooperate when questioned by the police. Her unsatisfactory private life has transcended into the work environment where her inter-personal relationships have become tense. After a nasty confrontation with a co-worker, Hae-won is advised to take leave and consider her future. She decides to visit her childhood friend Kim Bok-nam (Yeong-hie Seo) who still lives in the village Hae-won stayed at during holidays on the small, quiet island of Moo-do. Bok-nam has been writing unanswered letters to Hae-won for years but Hae-won never bothered to read them. On return to the island Hae-won is warmly welcomed by Bok-nam who anticipates rescue, but is also disturbed by the hostile reception from most of the villagers, especially the older relatives. She is also appalled at how Bok-nam is belittled by her husband Man-jong (Jeong-hak Park), his family, and by the other women. She is a virtual slave and spends all her time either doing household chores or farming while the men folk lie around chewing “bozo” plant leaves (apparently a mild narcotic). Despite this the older women berate her as being lazy and worthless and a poor wife. Perhaps worst of all she has become an unwilling sex object for the men, including her brother in law Kim Yeon-hee (Ji-Eun Lee), and has borne a daughter to someone other than her husband. Meanwhile her husband openly has prostitutes brought in from the mainland to satisfy his lusts while she is also forced to protect her young daughter from incestuous advances. Hae-won distances herself from these goings on and does not help Bok-nam when she tries to escape the island with her daughter. Bok-nam is caught before escaping and Hae-won witnesses the resulting violent confrontation. Yet again Hae-won refuses to cooperate with the subsequent police investigation and does not support her childhood friend. This proves to be an epiphany for Bok-nam who explodes with violent rage and seeks revenge on all those on the island who have persecuted and betrayed her. It remains for Hae-won to escape the island and try to overcome her own inner demons.
Bedevilled is a story in two parts. Firstly we have the excruciatingly awful life led by Bok-nam who suffers daily from beatings, rape, scorn, and the awful possibility that her young daughter will be drawn into the sordid village culture. Secondly we have the revenge of Bok-nam, where the film descends into a very much cliché-ridden slasher movie. Throughout this we have the beautiful Hae-won as a stark contrast to the villagers. She has an education, a good job in Seoul, and white, clean skin which fascinates the villagers who are tanned and rough skinned from working in the fields. In flashbacks to childhood days we see Hae-won and Bok-nam playing on the island and we also see Hae-won’s first betrayal of Bok-nam when she failed to help her friend when in trouble. The first section is brilliantly done but also very harrowing to watch. The older women are total witches but unfathomably enamoured with the males of the family who are all coarse mannered, lazy, misogynistic and violent. Bok-nam endures all this mistreatment until she can take no more, with the final betrayal of her friend tipping the balance towards insanity. With this change in pace the film becomes less effective as the psychological tension makes way for violent set pieces. Throughout this we see the none too subtle moral tale of "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" unfolding.
Acting from the female cast is uniformly excellent from the absolutely awful mother in law from hell to the two main leads. It is clear that Bok-nam is infatuated with Hae-won despite the inequity in their relationship, and this tenderness amidst the awful reality of life is beautifully done by Yeong-hie Seo. Seong-won Ji has less prime screen time but portrays the flawed beauty of the privileged city girl in a convincing manner. The main male leads including the ferry driver are much harder to judge as they are so exaggerated in awfulness that they become caricatures. This is no doubt as directed by Cheol-Soo Jang, but I felt it was overdone at times. Cinematography on the island was beautifully done with the breath-taking scenery of the South Korean coast and island vistas perfectly captured. Don’t be put off by this being a foreign language film as it will truly have you uncomfortably gripped, if not squirming, for its roller-coaster like duration.
This Blu-ray is presented in the aspect of 2.35:1 which is slightly less than the original 2.39:1. The MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p has beautifully captured the island and South Korean coast, along with the grimy daily like of peasant villagers. Outdoor scenes are especially rich and vibrant with great depth and clarity. Darker scenes are similarly excellent although softer than the daylight scenes. Shades of grey and black were clearly defined. The colours are all especially rich but not overly saturated so that everything looks realistic and not enhanced.
There were no examples of compression artefacts or any other imperfections that I noticed. Close ups, especially of faces, were impeccably detailed with the skin tones just right. Overall this is an excellent example of the benefits of high definition video.
English subtitles are burned into the 2.35:1 aspect and are easy to read.
This is a dual layer disc.
The two audio tracks available are Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at around 4000Kbps and Korean LPCM 2.0 at 1536Kbps. English subtitles are hard coded into the image and so cannot be turned off. I listened to the 5.1 track in entirety and sampled the 2.0 track on occasions.
This surround track will not be one you’d put on as a demo to impress friends, but it does everything required in a clear and faithful manner. Dialogue is in synch and is always easy to hear and the island sounds such as crashing waves and wind were suitably embedded into the surround channels. The LFE track was under-whelming but then this is not a movie that requires a lot of bass. During the latter third of the movie when events take a turn for the worse the 5.1 surround effects become more noticeable and add to the tension. The LPCM track was similarly effective, with dialogue slightly more distinct than in the 5.1 track. The English translation was excellent although I did notice a couple of phrases that were a touch clumsy.
In summary this is a very good audio offering with no flaws that I could detect.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is nicely presented with an artistic video background and moody audio backing. I found it was a little difficult to navigate at first with my player but fine using the computer.
1.33:1 video aspect and Korean LPCM 2.0 audio at 1536Kbps. Quite interesting footage of scene takes and rehearsals.
2.35:1 video aspect in letter and pillar boxed with Korean LPCM 2.0 audio at 1536Kbps. English subtitles. Gives away too much of the plot for my liking.
2.35:1 video aspect in letter and pillar boxed with Korean LPCM 2.0 audio at 1536Kbps. English subtitles. Shorter version of the theatrical trailer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This version seems identical to the UK version. At the time of review this movie has not been released in the US in blu-ray format.
Bedevilled is a deeply disturbing film that builds steadily in tension until Bok-nam decides on her final solution. From that point the film is less successful and descends into more standard fare. Another minor criticism is that the final scenes are a bit disjointed as if the director realised that he was running overtime and so cut out some key plot points. This is not a horror movie despite the Blu-ray cover image and it's not a straight forward revenge movie either. This is more of an exploration of how fate and circumstances can influence your life, and how a bad decision can have ramifications far beyond what you could imagine. This film is a great promotion for the Korean film industry and is highly recommended.
The video quality is excellent. The audio quality is very good.
Extras are meagre by Blu-ray standards.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|