Tag Archives: Lee Won-tae

The Devil’s Deal (Lee Won-tae, 2021)

In 2019, Korean director Lee Won-tae broke through globally with The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, a thriller that had already entered discussions for an English-language remake prior to receiving an international premiere out of competition at Cannes. On the basis of the high concept premise alone, you can see why there’s been eagerness to retell it with different cultural specifics: a crime boss finds himself teaming up with a local detective trying to bring him down, after the former barely survives a vicious attack by a suspected serial killer.

Lee’s follow-up, The Devil’s Deal, is another gangster thriller, albeit with less action genre crossover, making it less likely to inspire an overseas remake. This is not a comment on its quality; if anything, this is a more accomplished and richer crime saga than its entertainingly blunt and slick predecessor. It’s more that the plot of The Devil’s Deal is so rooted in the particulars of South Korea’s electoral politics that there’s a less immediately obvious way to translate the material. That said, the notion of there being minimal differences between politicians and underworld enforcers is all-too universal…

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