Action Drama

'The Villainess' Toronto After Dark 2017 Review: A convoluted plot can't kill this enjoyable revenge-thriller

October 19, 2017Ferdosa Abdi

With the basic plot of an assassin origin story, the stylistic flare of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, and the kinetic energy of Hardcore Henry, Jung Byung-gil's The Villainess is a melting pot of a variety of films from the revenge-thriller genre.

Equal parts drama and madcap action insanity, the story follows a Black Widow-esque assassin named Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin), who’s led down a path of violence after witnessing the murder of her father. Orphaned as a child and vowing revenge, she eventually finds herself at the mercy of a covert organization specializing in turning young women into experts in the art of deception, infiltration and assassination. But when her latest mission gets personal, she must choose between upholding her duties or protecting the only family she knows — her young daughter.

Thrilling and bloody, The Villainess is also a surprisingly deep character study, with Kim brilliantly conveying the gentler side of a woman who’s also incredibly dangerous and determined. As for its somewhat convoluted plot, it’s not the main focus, but rather merely a device for getting Sook-hee from point A to point B, to wreak havoc.

The Villainess is receiving its Toronto premiere at Toronto After Dark 2017.

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