Bullet Points: The Villainess
I’ve talked several times over the last few years about my love of the action movies coming out of South Korea. The way the Korean directors show a complete disregard for happy endings makes me feel all fuzzy inside. If you’ve seen any of the movies I’m talking about then you’ll know that it doesn’t matter if your name is listed first in the credits, your face is on the cover of the poster, or your name recently appeared alongside Dwayne Johnson in a big budget Hollywood movie, your chances of survival are no greater than anyone else. It’s the total opposite of the Star Trek Red Shirt theory. In South Korean action movies, everyone wears a red shirt.
So you could imagine my excitement when our good buddy @ThrashusMaximus sent us another glorious recommendation that all but guaranteed that I’d be shadow boxing all alone in my basement. I’ve always said that if you’re not throwing punches at invisible enemies during a movie then they aren’t fighting enough (or you’re not drunk enough). So I got good and drunk the other night and watched 2017’s The Villainess. Hell yeah!
Synopsis: Sook-hee (Ok-bin Kim) is only a little girl when she witnesses the murder of her father and is taken in and trained to be an assassin. After the death of her mentor/husband, Sook-hee finds herself under the employ of a mysterious Agency that uses her for her skills in killing. With a young daughter and a hope for a new life, Sook-hee starts to unlock the many secrets in her life that begin to turn it upside down and send her spiraling into a violent fury.
- Angel of Death: The opening scene of The Villainess is some of the craziest shit I’ve ever seen. It essentially opens up with an unknown POV character blowing through a building like a tornado of death. If you’ve never seen Hardcore Henry then you’ve probably never seen a scene quite this insane. It’s like someone went back in time and strapped a GoPro onto the chest of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Hell, it’s quite a bit of time before we really get to meet the main character and I wasn’t mad at all. One of my favorite opening scenes of all time.
- Fight fire with fire: I don’t watch action movies to sit on my hands and think about deep shit like love, the tragedy of dying young, or the effect of fatherless marriages on American society. I watch it to get my heart pumping and that is exactly what The Villainess does. Sook-hee follows up her impressive debut by getting even more training by some shadowy agency that only employs hot lady assassins. If anyone knows who does the hiring there I could probably give deep tissue massages to them or something… just saying. But Sook-hee adds to her already impressive skills, all the while giving birth to a little rugrat.
- When the stillness comes: Being a mother and being an assassin aren’t exactly two of the easiest jobs in the world. Yeah, I hear all the time about how hard it is to be a single mother but I’d like to see those women saying that try murdering high profile, heavily guarded men at the same time. Sook-hee finally gets out on her own, along with her child, of course, but the Agency is watching her more closely than she thinks and it isn’t long before she starts getting new missions to carry out. Getting a babysitter is tough. Trusting almost a complete stranger to watch your kid isn’t the easiest thing to do. It must have weighed heavily on her mind as she was forcing her way into that building to end of the life of that samurai sword wielding dude… yes, you read that right.
- Message in blood: Just as her life is starting to get better, Sook-hee finds that her professional life (killing) takes a turn for the worst. It basically turns into a Takashi Miike movie. She’s trying to kill people she loves, getting into crazy motorcycle chase/sword fights, and killing men while wearing a wedding dress. The control of the Agency on her life really takes its toll and Sook-hee soon has to make a real decision as to who she can trust.
- The Beginning… at last: Like a good Tarantino movie, The Villainess jumps around a bit, showing us different moments of Sook-hee’s life. What is most sad about her life is that each segment shown involves some sort of loss for Sook-hee. It is no wonder that she is so full of anger.
- Angel of Mercy: The final act of the film is an emotional rollercoaster. These Korean films really don’t give a shit if you like a character or not. They probably would have murdered half of the kids in The Goonies if they had made it! Sook-hee turns into an indestructible, unstoppable, killing machine before all is said and done and we’re given a final scene that rivals the opening one. I don’t know many ways to describe the action in The Villainess other than to tell you it is by far my favorite movie of 2017. Seek it out.
Take a recommendation from me and read these Bonus Bullet Points:
- The Villainess has a surprisingly good romantic angle to it between Sook-hee and a fellow member of her Agency. I found myself actually enjoying the quiet parts of the movie almost as much as the action packed ones. That is a damn good sign.
- Lessons I learned in movies #21: All bodies are bulletproof when used as human shields.
- Do you love Le Femme Nikita? Then you’ll love this movie