The Villainess (org. title Ak-Nyeo) is yet another example of a great Korean revenge plot. If you loved Oldboy this one is for you!
While The Villainess (Ak-Nyeo) is reminiscent of the Korean movie Oldboy, it’s also easy to compare it to Nikita. Even though our female main protagonist wants her own revenge, she also has to complete tasks for certain other people.
We follow the life of Sook-hee (Ok-bin Kim) and it entails a lot of ups and downs. Not to mention the loss of love. She ends up having serious trust issues and you certainly can’t blame her.
The Villainess maintains the strong elements from other brilliant Korean movies but is very much its own. Since we love movies from South Korea here at Heaven of Horror, we make sure to check out new releases whenever possible.
Very rarely do they disappoint and sometimes they even impress or bring something completely new to the table.
The life of Sook-hee
The movie could easily have had the above title instead of The Villainess. We follow Sook-hee from the time she’s just a little girl in China, being trained to kill.
After things go horribly wrong, she’s offered a new chance at life in South Korea. Of course, she just needs to give 10 years of her life as an agent for the government. This is the part that resembles Nikita – the whole deal of having to work for your freedom.
The story and plot developments work really well for me. What also works really well are the plot twists along the way. Nobody is 100% good or bad, but we’re following Sook-hee’s life, so obviously we’re on her side.
Ok-bin Kim stars as Sook-hee and her performance is critical for The Villainess to work. And she definitely does. You may have seen Ok-bin Kim before in the brilliant Korean vampire movie Thirst. Be sure to check it out, if you haven’t watched it yet.
The maternal side of it all
What makes The Villainess different from so many other assassin movies, is the fact that she’s also a mother. Throughout everything, she has her child with her.
Both when being an agent in training and, later on, while having to go on missions. This brings a new range of emotions and plot elements that offers a refreshing innovation.
Also, the fight scenes are f*cking brilliant! The opening scene itself is from Sook-hee’s point of view, which is breathtaking. This continues for minutes. In fact, it’s right up until the time her face is smashed into a mirror before we’re released to watch the scene unfold as an observer.
The Villainess was directed by Byung-gil Jung, who also co-wrote the script with Byeong-sik Jung.
The Villainess originally premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May 2017 and has been playing film festivals worldwide since.
We were fortunate enough to catch a screening at the Danish film festival CPH PIX. We saw it in early October 2017 and highly recommend watching it on the big screen if you get the chance.
The Villainess is out on DVD and VOD in the US now.
Director: Byung-gil Jung
Writers: Byeong-sik Jung, Byung-gil Jung
Cast: Ok-bin Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, Jun Sung
A female assassin leaves a trail of bodies behind her as she seeks revenge.