January 30, 2018

The Villainess: Getting Even Means Bloody Hell

I'm going to go out on a severed limb and say that action auteur Jung Byung-gil's The Villainess may have more fatal throat stabbings than any other crime pic I've ever seen. The incredibly gory opening sequence alone shows our anti-heroine Sook-hee (Min Ye-ji) walking purposefully through a grimy building where, once her guns run out of ammo, she pulls out her knives then slits, slices, severs, cuts, slashes, eviscerates, and punctures the neck of every man who gets in her way — all of which we experience from a shooter-game POV meant to replicate the first-hand view of our angry young woman. Since she's not capable of killing everyone, she's eventually captured and given plastic surgery because that'll make her lose her memory. Because her face looks so different. Because you can't remember who you are if you look totally different, right? Especially if you're prettier!

Okay, okay. The logic is wobbly. But The Villianess is really a movie created for people who will eagerly put aside concerns around plausibility if it means watching a tough woman who likes to fight and knows how to win. I mean, who doesn't want to see a bride holding a sniper? My problem with The Villainess is that none of the other women who've been trained at the assassin school where the older Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) has her killer instincts refined, possess a skill level that's anywhere close to hers. Her future husband Hyun-soo (Jung Suk), a graduate of the boys program, never really gets to strut his stuff while her former husband Joong-sang (Shin Ha-kyun), an instructor (?), needs a better storyline. Maybe Chief Kwon (Kim Seo-hyeong), our respected Dean of Death, needs to hire a more vicious staff so that her graduates are deadlier after they've donned their caps and gowns. For now, the program can only bring those with natural talents at taking someone out to the highest level. The rest of the students are doomed to be practice targets for bullets, fists, and yes, knives. This villainess doesn't have a true rival. I guess she's her own worst enemy.

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