Toronto After Dark 2017: Our Review of ‘The Villainess’

Posted in Movies, Toronto After Dark 2017 by - October 15, 2017
Toronto After Dark 2017: Our Review of ‘The Villainess’

I spent the first scene of Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainness resisting it. It begins with an unceasing long take of an off-screen woman/killing some people. I assume she is shooting criminals. The action and its depiction, set in Korea, are good in theory. However I was waiting for that breathing space for the next scene and afraid that it would never come. It would also be nice to see the person off screen working hard with every breath and limb.

Patience rewards a good audience member, and eventually we see the woman inflicting all this damage. The bloody faced titular character can convey both innocence and ferocity. Her name is Sook-hee (Thirst‘s Kim Ok-vin). She’s is one of the latest in a long line of action film protagonists out for revenge. She belongs to a film that wears its references on its sleeve. However, there are differences in the premise this time around.

Kwon-sook (Kim Seo-hyung) vouches for Sook-hee and kidnaps her into an assassin training facility in China. This is when the film gets to take its necessary breaths and its visuals become more dynamic. The visuals correspond with Kwon-sook showing her the different cover lives she could lead. She’s terrible at all of them except for acting in theatrical plays. Yes! That’s when Kwon-sook assigns her to an apartment back in Seoul.

All of this eventually makes sense, as Jung organizes his film into two different timelines. Kim Ok-vin is at both. She competently shows both Sook-hee present and past as a fully blossomed woman and a younger, more naive version of that. There’s also a cool griminess to the cinematography that highlights her rough growth into her killer self. Although the film starts off awkwardly its becomes a seamless action ride.

See Dave’s take right here.

This post was written by

While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.