What kind of movie is it?
The Villainess, directed by Byung-gil Jung (Confession of Murder), is a revenge action thriller that doesn’t do things by halves. Drawing inspiration from Western classics such as Kill Bill and Nikita, the high-octane action of The Villainess is coupled with panache and dynamism, and the fight choreography is expertly executed. The Villainess had its world premiere at the Cannes Film festival this year, and received a standing ovation!
The official movie trailer
*Please be aware that the trailer does contain scenes of violence which will be unsuitable for young viewers.
Plot synopsis and review
Right from the outset, this movie screams action. The opening sequence is set up as if you are playing an intense level of a first person shooter game, the body count is high, the turns are dizzying and the Korean director (Jung Byung-gil) doesn’t shy away from showing the viewers the ensuing bloodshed and blood spatters. A nice touch is added by including the reloading of the gun too; it’s another nod towards platform shooting games. The female protagonist then demonstrates her knifework, slashing and fighting her way with such savage ferocity.
Although the gore and breaking through glass did start to become a little comedic at times (purely from these effects being used a lot), the transitions were good and all the action set-pieces well put together in the film. We particularly enjoyed the motorbike fight and chase sequence.
The female protagonist, Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) is shown to be extremely gifted killer and assassin, almost machine-like and invincible. Yet she gives herself up to the authorities after her initial killing spree and finds herself in a very unusual prison; a would-be sleeper agent training centre. Soon, the pieces begin to make sense and Sook-hee is made an offer, though not without an element of blackmail – to give up 10 years of her life in service with the promise that she will be allowed to live a normal life with her daughter.
As we get to know more about Sook-hee’s convoluted backstory and her reasons for seeking revenge, the stop-start fractured editing that enhances the action sequences tends to dilute the emotional impact of certain scenes depicting Sook-hee’s struggles. We find out that she was originally trained by a gangster and fell in love with her mentor (Shin Ha-kyun), however she exists in a world where trust is hard to come by.
We felt that the movie would have benefited from some added time to explore the characters in more depth so that the audience could be more emotionally-invested in the central figures. However, lead actress Kim Ok-bin manages to convey the anguish and pain that accompanies Sook-hee’s life at every turn; and we are able to glimpse some of the harsh consequences of the violence and bloodshed. We were also very impressed by the performance given by Kim Seo-hyung as Sook-hee’s handler. Although restrained in personality, the icy demeanor of Chief Kwon falls at times and is displayed as subtle details on screen.
The fierce and dramatic action sequences definitely stood out for us in The Villainess, it’s where the movie springs to life. The shot of Sook-hee in her wedding dress aiming a rifle at her next human target was an amazing scene. Fans of this type of genre will enjoy the film; we do recommend that you watch The Villainess!
The Villainess is releasing in UK cinemas on 15th September – so be sure to catch it at a cinema near you!
Featured image: © The DDA group. 08.09.2017. ‘The Villainess’ official movie poster.
In-article images: © The DDA group. 08.09.2017. All official movie stills were provided by the DDA group for reproduction in this article.