This could be the most insane action film you’ve ever seen.
From an opening sequence that blends the first person perspective of Hardcore Henry with vengeful hallway scene of Oldboy, to the most intense bus-based climax since Speed, The Villainess cranks the raw action energy to eleven and beyond.
Sook-hee (Ok-bin Kim) is one of the world’s most dangerous assassins, with a grudge or two to settle. She has a troubled past, mysterious present, and dangerous future. Unsure of whether she is being played, and whom she can trust, she hopes futilely for something like a normal life while carving up death to those who have wronged her in so many ways.
Hailing from Korea, under the direction of Byung-gil Jung, it is unlike anything I’ve seen on screen before. The plot is utterly convoluted (yet captivating) and the characters and underdeveloped (yet effective tropes). But the action and the cinematography that goes along with it are something to behold, often on a whole new level of cinema. There is, for instance, a motorcycle chase scene involving katanas – half the time I cannot come up with a reasonable explanation for what sort of camera could possibly be filming this, or where it might be located. Multiple hidden cuts, visual tricks, and undoubtedly some post production CGI come into play, but it is a visionary and mind blowing couple of minutes. Luckily for you, that particular clip has been uploaded as a promo spot, so you can get a taste for yourself below.
Finished watching that a time or two? OK, good. While The Villainess is not non-stop action, rest assured that the film is replete with insane moments like this, broken up by a story that seems like it has been ripped from a demented soap opera. Seriously, some of what happens here is so twisted…
A brisk two hour film, The Villainess, builds a world of assassins as interesting as John Wick, though it fails to make much sense of itself. Gorgeous imagery, ridiculous action, and emotional ups and downs make it OK though. It doesn’t really matter if you can’t keep things straight – by the end it’s pretty clear what’s up, and it has been one completely insane ride up to then. Though I’m still not sure if Sook-hee has actual super powers or not.
A genre masterpiece only held back by a lack of real characters, story, or logic. I think I’ll watch it again…
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Four out of five hats
The Villainess is racking up the body count in select theaters, opening in the DC area September 15