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The Villainess

An Endless Vengeance Begins 

Year: 2017 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Byung-gil Jung 
Starring: Ok-bin Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, Jun Sung  
An image from The Villainess

According to newspapers and all official accounts, the assassin, Sook-Hee (Kim Ok-Bin), committed suicide to avoid capture. Unofficially, however, she is live (and very much kicking), but unfortunately the prisoner of the South Korea Intelligence Agency. She’s offered a deal – become an assassin for the government for 10 years to earn her freedom and a new life. Since she’s pregnant at the time, she agrees. And besides, there is no alternative…

However, this is not where the film begins. The Villainess starts as it means to continue, with a high-adrenaline thrill-ride as our protagonist wildly slashes her way through an entire building of anonymous goons. One of many action scenes that is shot in first-person-point-of-view and in hand-held camera, it’s reminiscent of a videogame though delivers the chaos and frantic urgency of fighting when attack can come from any side.

Comparisons can be made to La Femme Nikita, Kill Bill or John Wick and there is even a nod to Old Boy, as the iconic corridor fight scene is reinterpreted. But be under no illusions, this is no watered-down copy, and has highly inventive action scenes all of its own, such as a three-way swordfight – on motorbikes at breakneck speed – at night!

Receiving the ‘Out of Competition’ award from Cannes Film Festival (as well as a four-minute standing ovation from the audience), it’s not hard to understand why.

Natalie Tyldesley-Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Spring Term (digital)