Final LKFF 2017 Teaser: The Villainess

This final teaser screening for the 2017 London Korean Film Festival looks rather fun. And to add to the tease, on the same evening the programme for the main festival will be unveiled. See you there.

The Villainess (악녀)

London Korean Film Festival Teaser Screening + LKFF 2017 Programme Launch
Director: Jung Byung-gil (정병길), 2017, 123 mins
Cast: Kim Ok-bin, Shin Ha-kyun
11 September 2017 7:30pm | Regent Street Cinema | Book tickets

The Villainess

Exploding onto the screen in a kinetic flurry of hyper-stylised action, Director Jung Byung-gil (Confessions of Murder, Action Boys) thrusts his audience into the noir-tinged world of The Villainess, now arriving in the UK after its Cannes premiere.

Trained killer Sook-hee (Kim Ok-vin, Thirst) is the architect of an unforgettable opening sequence, shot in breathtaking first person point-of-view, as she breaks into a warehouse and lays waste to the multitude of thugs contained within. When the pregnant young woman eventually goes down, she’s picked up by the mysterious National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Given the choice to join them or die, she reluctantly accepts a new identity and trains in order to complete a future assignment and eventually win freedom for herself and her daughter. Matters are further complicated by the feelings arising from the murder of her father, a past relationship with a gang-boss ex-lover and the tantalising chance at a happy future offered by an undercover agent with a mission to win her affections…

Jung Byung-gil infuses a tale containing many of the hallmarks of modern Korean thrillers with original action elements and an unflinching style that recalls Park Chan Wook’s Oldboy while also pointing towards the female-led narratives offered by Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita. Despite these nods to the past, the film manages to carve out its own stylish niche in the current cinematic landscape.

Whether the protagonist deserves the moniker bestowed by the film’s title is ultimately left for the audience to decide yet with its delirious indulgence in the excesses of South Korean action cinema, The Villainess offers a bold new take on the neo-noir genre.

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

One thought on “Final LKFF 2017 Teaser: The Villainess

  1. Villainess

    Having now seen the movie, I can’t add much to the above write-up. I caught the references to the three films mentioned, and there were probably many more references that I missed (maybe Bruce Lee’s Game of Death?). It was fun, it was grueling. We were told beforehand that there was no CGI involved, other then the necessary airbrushing out of the wires involved in the wire-work: Kim Ok-vin, we were told, is a black belt in taekwondo and hapkido. There were moments when the audience was rendered almost sick with giddiness at the camerawork (particularly in the exciting POV opening sequence, so reminiscent of that famous corridor scene in Oldboy), and maybe the whole movie was about five minutes too long. But overall this is a thundering good girls-with-guns movie: a worthy addition to the genre. Shin Ha-kyun as the girl’s early mentor is suitably menacing.

    Two questions / observations, that don’t affect the rating:

    1. I’m not quite sure why the film’s English title is The Villainess. Maybe it’s because she can’t escape her past. But within the context of the genre it’s not as if the audience is meant to disapprove of her actions.
    2. What on earth is Kim Ok-bin wearing under her black catsuit in the shot where she’s clinging to the back of the bus? It looks like body armour made of ballbearings. Whatever, it rather spoils her contours.

    3.5/5

    The FT loved it too.

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