The Villainess is one of the best South Korean exports in recent memory. Female action powerhouse Kim Ok-bin plays Sook-hee, a woman trained from youth to be a living weapon and deadly assassin. When her lover is murdered, she seeks revenge on the criminal organization that killed him. Captured by the authorities, she is arrested and given a choice by a clandestine government group—she can die, or she can go work for them. In 10 years she can retire fat and rich. She takes the job.
From the first minute, a point of view camera takes Sook-hee into a warehouse full of criminals where she violently removes everyone on four floors. First she uses guns; when she runs out of (a lot of) bullets, swords, then knives, then blazing fast hand to hand combat. This first scene challenges viewers to think, what’s next and how can the filmmakers possibly top this? Believe me, they do.
Sook-hee, now working undercover in her new identity as Chae Yeon-soo, soon embraces her government job. She gets an apartment and starts to fall for her quirky neighbor, Joong-sang. There is more to Joong-sang than meets the eye, but is he friend or foe? Or both?
|Korean Actress Kim Ok-bin|
Life slowly improves as Sook-hee raises her new daughter and proceeds to carry out her spy/assassin assignments—until she is targeted by a man she thought was dead. This leads to massive set piece battle scenes between Chae and a large group of criminals. She battles it out with their greatest assassins, with fights on the side of skyscrapers, in public transportation, and a heart-stopping sword battle on motorcycles, in a tunnel with armed riders all around her. These fights are original, spectacular and violent. The motorcycle sword battle alone must have left scores of dead stuntmen on the ground. If they used CGI to make heads strike the pavement at 70mph, I didn’t notice it.
Chae goes through so much heartbreak in the movie, with betrayals, dead lovers and family members, and vast organizations trying to kill her—including her own. The story is fun (if a bit soapy) and the action is unique and non-stop. This is one for action lovers. Highly recommended.
Rating: **** stars out of 5