Fantasia Film Review: The Villainess

Fantasia has begun. You’d be wise to seek cover.

the-villainess-poster

THE VILLAINESS might seem too much of an ostentatious title for what seems to be a revenge movie. Director, co-writer and producer Jung Byung-gil has in his hands a story that seems simple: a woman scorned seeking revenge. But it’s not the betrayal and the double-cross that makes this movie. It’s, simply speaking, where and how the director has shown to put the camera. It’s literally all about the ole’ Point of View.

Kim Ok-vin plays the main role of Sook-hee, whose backstory is revealed throughout the movie in very violent scenes. As a matter of fact, the violence goes so over the top that the respite you get is too short-lived. The longest easy storyline is when Sook-hee has an adorable and awkward romantic courtship with the next door neighbor.

But as the story progresses in all its lines, we learn what happened to her first of loves. Her father was murdered. She was taken but later rescued by the man who would first train her.

It’s not until her first revenge fest ends up in her arrest that Sook-hee enters to work for a mysterious agency. To top it off, she is pregnant. Her goal, work for the agency ten years and then be free. Of course nothing ever comes that easy.

You can call this cinematography as much as you could call what Indiana Jones does archaeology. I stress that I mean this in a loving matter, as the camera work is amazing. The lens follows, pivots, rotates, backflips and more. The opening sequence will have your heart pumping before the title screen as we get a little homage to first person shooter video games.

There’s a shot almost made by numbers where Sook-hee is in her wedding dress and aiming a high power rifle through a ventilation fan. Everyone can see the influences from NIKITA but I actually thought of POINT OF NO RETURN – which I know it’s quite literally a NIKITA clone.

But here’s perhaps where the film gets to have its cake and eat it too. It’s not difficult to see violence is not a byproduct of the film, but its main export. You can see that the film can slow down and tell a story. It was a welcome moment to have Sook-hee out of the agency with her daughter and slowly falling in love. Depending on your mindset you’ll either empathize with the lovers who don’t get a happy ending or await expectantly for the next violent turn. Either way you know that we’re going back on the action bus soon, and quite literally.

Recommended only if you’re ready for fast, hardcore violent action. The camera brings you a little too close, but the techniques here are really to die for. The story is your standard revenge fare, but it does have a little heart although it’s not given that much screen time. Leave the children at home and make sure the explosives are under lock and key.

That will do for now.

 

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