The Korea Herald


‘Devil’s Deal’ depicts instinctive desire, betrayal in crime noir

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Feb. 3, 2023 - 12:19

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Cho Jin-woong stars in “The Devil’s Deal.” (Plus M Entertainment) Cho Jin-woong stars in “The Devil’s Deal.” (Plus M Entertainment)

Director Lee Won-tae returns with another crime noir flick, “The Devil’s Deal,” four years after he was invited to the Cannes Film Festival for 2019’s "The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil.”

Reunited with “The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil” actor Kim Moo-yeol, director Lee said he cast Cho Jin-woong early on and the acting roster was “nicely completed” when “Reborn Rich” actor Lee Sung-min joined at last.

“From when I was revising the scenario, I had Cho in my mind as the main protagonist -- no one else but him,” Lee told reporters during a press conference at Megabox Seongsu on Thursday.

“An average man in his 40s is often put to a crisis in his life and, regardless of his will, steps in the axis of evil for survival. I was sure that Cho could express both detailed acting and the character’s feeling of revulsion (after he becomes a villain). Also I needed an actor with a Busan background, and he has got it all,” he added.

“The Devil’s Deal,” set in Busan in 1992, centers on confrontation and collaboration between the ever-unsuccessful politician Hae-yong (Cho), political heavyweight Soon-tae (Lee) and gang boss Pil-do (Kim).

The film deals with humanity’s instinctive desire and betrayal that revolves around power and money.

“The year 1992 was in fact the most turbulent year in South Korea’s political history, when both a presidential election and the general election took place. Busan, a place where a variety of people moved after the Japanese colonial period, represents the rough, untamed mood of the region, and such a background was a great fit for a crime noir film,” Lee said.

Kim Moo-yeol, who appears as gang boss Pil-do, said “The Devil’s Deal” was a project that made him try new challenges, including acting with a Busan dialect.

“I was born and raised in Seoul, so it was hard for me to speak in the Busan dialect. I also had to gain 12 to 13 kilograms in a month because I had to look tough as a gang boss,” Kim said.

Unlike his role as a cop in the previous project with Lee in “The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil,” Kim takes on a role from the opposite perspective this time.

“I thought that I can create unseen energy of Kim in this film, through a character that he has never played before,” director Lee said.

Cho Jin-woong and Lee Sung-min have also reunited in “The Devil’s Deal,” after appearing together in “Believer” (2018) and “The Sheriff in Town” (2017).

“There is no better chemistry as fellow actors than between me and Cho. It was always better than I thought when we acted together,” Lee told reporters, adding that Cho was the first reason for Lee to appear in this film.

“The Devil’s Deal” opens in local cinemas on March 1.