Byung-Gil Jung, KOR 2017
Breathtakingly brilliant Korean martial arts is something we at Zienema certainly need to share with you, especially if it’s a movie described by Variety as ‘one-of-a-kind for its delirious action choreography and overall narrative dementia’. The first jaw-dropping seven-minute sequence proves that Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) is a foe to be reckoned with, as we see through her eyes how one bad guy after another perishes, succumbing to her superior fighting skills. Bloodied and pregnant, she is taken under the wings of a mysterious organisation, where her fighting skills are further honed and she is provided with a backstory for her work as an assassin, under the handling of soon-to-become love interest Jung Hyun-soo (Sung Joon).
Director Jung Byung-gil made a splash with Confession of Murder, but it is his previous work as choreographer of fight scenes which once again really shines through. He also contributed to the screenwriting, with its ingenious series of flashbacks, unravelling Sook-hee’s murderous instincts. Her young daughter and the unfolding love story offset the bloody mayhem, revenge scenes and spectacular chases that make up this genre classic. Kill Bill, La femme Nikita and Oldboy are the titles that crop up time and again when The Villainess (2017) puts in a violent appearance.