The titular character in Byun Sung-hyun’s Kill Boksoon (Jeon Do-yeon) tries to manage a good work life balance. In some ways, she succeeds, and in others, she doesn’t. She has a ‘buddy,’ Han hae-sung (Koo Kyo-hwan), and it helps that they’re both in the same business of contract killing. Of course, there are things that they don’t see eye to eye on. A single-ish guy like him doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to re-sign, but most understand that she’s doing it for her daughter, Gil Jae-yung (Kim Si-a). This is one of those ‘one last job’ picture where circumstances push that job further from the timeline. She inadvertently messes up while training a new killer, Kim Young-il (Lee Yeon).
Kill Boksoon comes as a collaboration between Netflix and See At Films. Details about the latter are not easy to find on Google, but regardless of that, the aesthetic seems more North American with nighttime scenes are difficult on the eyes. At least some of the dialogue and writing are good. A reason why these action suspense pictures exist is to feed its viewers’ macabre curiosity on what it’s like to kill. Boksoon gives lessons on how to stage a suicide and those lessons exist for Young-il and not for us. What it teaches us is that these contract killers do a lot of thinking, and that one false move can cause dire consequences within their dark underworld.
Kill Boksoon competently fleshes out its underworld even if yes, it can feel like it does too much of it. It shows us homes and crime scenes and the dive bars where Boksoon and her fellow contract killers hang around. It juggles a lot of characters and it gives all of them enough to do. Even if yes, some viewers may not be on board with its’ big bad. Is it Cha Min-hee (Esom), the second in command at the firm that gives Boksoon her jobs? Or is it Min-kyu (Sol Kyung-gu), Min-hee’s brother, the South Korean firm’s first in command? The picture sets up those relationships with the same length as it sets up its action sequences.
The picture’s set ups don’t necessarily explain these characters’ motivations, and I have reservations when it comes to the way it writes Jae-yung. However, viewers can’t say that the actors aren’t doing their best. If Kill Boksoon has a second placer, it’s Sol, whose wields Min-kyu’s ferocity in sync with the picture’s beats. And of course, Jeon carries the picture. She does well when the fight choreography is good. She reveals her characters’ vulnerabilities when it’s the right time to do so. Both actors show the visceral nature of the work that they do. The picture doesn’t always produce the best notes but these two actors make the landings stick, besting their castmates who are half their age.
Watch Kill Boksoon on Netflix.
- Release Date: 3/31/2023