The Villainess


Swanner: The film starts from a first shooter position: as someone is trying to either find their way in or out of this building. Leaving a long trail of bodies along the way, we finally see that Sook-hee (Ok-bin Kim) is the assassin. In flashbacks, after seeing her father killed in front of her face we see that she has been trained as an assassin from childhood. Now, she has been placed as a sleeper cell, but as her world starts to normalize, two men enter her life that change everything. Byung-gil Jung both wrote and directed this amazing film, along with co-writer Byeong-sik Jung.

Right away I’m reminded of my favorite female badass, Emma Peel from 1960’s The Avengers. She was beautiful and deadly and dressed the part. Sook-hee has the same look and swagger. Although Peel didn’t have the baggage that Sook-hee carries, both can get the job done, while barely breaking a sweat. I’ve always been a fan of the female action protagonist especially in the past few years with Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, and Sigourney Weaver paving the way. They made a female hero or villain a more common thing.

I also noticed that I found the film visually stimulating. I wanted more. The first sequence I mentioned earlier, actually had me reminding myself to breath. If there was a moment of quiet conversation, I found myself craving the next mass killing. There are moments where the film blurs the line on who’s good or who’s bad. These characters are all pretty much bad people, but Director Jung reminds us that Sook-hee, although flawed, is our hero. In this revenge film, we know everyone she kills deserves it because they’re keeping her from finding the one who killed her father. For anyone who loved Kill Bill, John Wick, or Atomic Blonde you will love The Villainess. Just don’t do her wrong.

Swanner: 4 stars

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