BALLERINA (2023) on Netflix is a female-led Korean revenge thriller. It has an extremely tough and no-nonsense protagonist that you can’t help but root for. As you should. Especially as the people she’s fighting are brutal gangsters. Read our full Ballerina movie review here and find it on Netflix now!
BALLERINA (2023) is a new Netflix thriller from South Korea. It’s a female-led revenge story and also an intense action movie. Of course, those two do seem to go together, but this one also manages to have a solid story. That isn’t always the case as the focus is on “cool fights” more than actually giving it some heart.
A revenge story should always have heart, and this has it in spades. Well, that and some amazing kick-ass (literally) talent. It has a touch of “with great power comes great responsibility”, but the main protagonist isn’t a superhero. She just has a mission and never gives up.
Continue reading our Ballerina movie review below. Find it on Netflix from October 6, 2023.
A strong female-led revenge story
In Ballerina (2023), Ok-ju (Jun Jong-seo) proves that she will truly do anything for her friend. Also, she is more than capable of actually completing the mission her friend sends her on. At least, she has the skillset necessary and is willing, which is one hell of a strong starting point.
When Ok-ju’s best friend, a real-life ballerina, dies, it’s the beginning of her search for revenge. Not only does her friend, Min-hee, make sure Ok-ju is the one who will find her dead body, she leaves a note asking her to get revenge for her death. If there’s even a split-second of doubt for Ok-ju, it’s not one we see as she vows to stop at nothing to track down the one responsible for her friend’s death.
Ok-ju heads out for revenge and is skilled at everything from hand-to-hand combat to firearms, knives, flame-throwers, and anything else that could possibly be used as a weapon. Oh yeah, she’s creative in that sense!
Also, I loved that when I found myself thinking – okay, fine, I shouted it at the screen – “Just shoot the guy already!”, she delivered on my wish. Yes, this is that kind of revenge story and I enjoyed it immensely.
Jun Jong-seo is the perfect avenger
The all-important lead role as Ok-ju is portrayed by Jun Jong-seo (or Jeon Jong-seo as she’s listed on IMDb). She is the perfect avenger and is absolutely unapologetic in her path to getting revenge for the death of her beloved friend. Ok-ju (which sounds a bit like Okja when spoken, so I have an immediate desire to rewatch Okja) isn’t a happy person, but her friend made her happy.
If you’ve watched the Netflix horror, crime, thriller, mystery hybrid The Call (org. Korean title: Kol), then you’ll recognize her from that. Between The Call and now Ballerina, she is quickly becoming one of my favorite South Korean genre actors.
Park Yu-rim from the Oscar-winning Drive My Car (2021) plays the ballerina, Min-hee, in the movie. As such, she obviously plays the title character and we see quite a bit of Ok-ju and Min-hee’s friendship in flashbacks. The two have a very loving relationship that clearly does them both a world of good.
As the villain, Choi, we see Kim Ji-hoon (Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area) who does a very good job in this role. He’s a very beautiful man, which is something others comment on as well. As pretty as Choi is on the outside, he is broken and ugly on the inside. In ways that only serve to spur Ok-ju on in her search for revenge.
Watch Ballerina (2023) on Netflix now!
With this female-led Korean action thriller, the amazing lead actor is reunited with her director from The Call. A movie that also got her a Best Actress award – and also a movie you’ll definitely want to check out if you haven’t watched it already. This is only the second feature film for writer-director Lee Chung-hyun, so here’s hoping he’ll make a third one starring Jun Jong-seo.
DO CHECK OUT
Ballerina is yet another example of why we love South Korean genre productions here at Heaven of Horror. For this one, the runtime is just around an hour and a half (94 minutes to be exact), which is much shorter than for most Korean movies. However, this is directly connected to the fast-paced story, so it makes sense.
We get a lot of slow-burn genre stories from South Korea, but this one is full force from the very beginning. Sure, there are slower moments where we get to know the characters, but once they’ve served their purpose, it’s back to the revenge. If you’re not sure what to watch this Friday night, Ballerina is a solid choice!
Ballerina (2023) is on Netflix from October 6, 2023.
Director: Lee Chung-hyun
Writer: Lee Chung-hyun
Cast: Jun Jong-seo, Kim Ji-hoon, Park Yu-rim
Grieving the loss of a best friend she couldn’t protect, ex-bodyguard Ok-ju sets out to fulfill her dear friend’s last wish: sweet, sweet revenge.