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A Special Lady - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2017

Crime, Action

Lee An-gyoo

Kim Hye-soo
Lee Sun-kyun
Lee Hee-joon
Choi Moo-sung
Kim Min-seok
Oh Ha-nee

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A Special Lady

A Special Lady - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Kim (Choi Moo-sung) runs a company with his lover and secretary Na (Kim Hye-soo). They are specialized in professional extortion. Kim and Na shoot high-ranking men of politics and economy cheating on their wives with girls they hired for this very purpose and that way blackmail them to do as they wish. Lim (Lee Sun-kyun) is the right hand of the two and has been in love with Na for ten years already. However, he constantly gets the brush-off. One of the men being blackmailed by the company is prosecutor Choi (Lee Hee-joon), who is about to uncover the illegal business of Kim and Na. Because of the sex video he now has no other choice, but the leave the case be until he suddenly comes up with the idea to use the frustrated Lim for his own agenda. He promises him that he may take over the company if in return he gives him Kim and Na on a silver platter. Lim may be agreeing to the terms, but he certainly isn't willing to turn in Na. He hopes that these new circumstances will eventually allow him to win her over. If this shouldn't work out either there is also her son who doesn't know of her existence and is just about to get back to Korea and his father. A deadly game commences...

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Review: "A Special Lady" is a highly entertaining film noir with a great pacing. Still, the movie didn't gain a lot of favor with critics since the motives dealt with aren't new and at times even could be seen in other genre entries extensively. Furthermore, the screenplay sadly doesn't deal much with the characters contrary to what you first might get the impression of when looking at Lim who has obsessively fallen in love and Na who is willing to give up anything for her son. A certain chemistry is intended between the two, but, at best, it is merely hinted at. The flick thus has its biggest weaknesses when it comes to the individuals and that's a shame since the actors featured actually make you expect that they could bring to screen complex individuals in a convincing manner.

A Special Lady - Film Screenshot 5

Unfortunately, the actors don't succeed in getting more out of their characters either. Kim Hye-soo ("Coin Locker Girk") may be the heroine according to the title, but it takes a while until this is actually the case. This unfortunate choice of focus becomes a problem at some points. That we don't get any information about Na for such a long time is also harmful to the film's coherence since we suddenly get to see Na taking on real waves of gangsters towards the end. Before that we didn't know anything about her extraordinary self-defense skills. Granted, this gives us more ideas what her past may have looked like, but it also shows that a lot more should have been done in this respect. Na's motives are depicted very shallow.

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Thanks to the garish color of her hairdo Na at least stands in the foreground visually. However, at first, Lee Sun-kyun ("A Hard Day") stands as the real protagonist. Unfortunately, he is somewhat colorless, too. Only his all-devouring love for Na gives his character purpose. In this regard it needs to be pointed out that this (unrequited) love is the reason for everything to ultimately go down to hell. This, and when looking at some of the action sequences in which Na defends herself against some attackers in a junkyard or when fighting her way across a noble entrance hall, instantly reminds you of "A Bittersweet Life". And that's not some coincidence since director Lee An-gyoo has worked under Kim Jee-won before making his debut. This becomes particularly apparent in the dark color palette and the polished pictures.

A Special Lady - Film Screenshot 7

Sadly, this means that he only imitates others and shows little that can be called inventive. As a genre treat this film is absolutely satisfactory and can be fun. Even though there isn't much action to be seen in the beginning, it's especially this what manages to excite since the action has been brought to screen with the necessary amount of violence. "A Special Lady" is bloody but the means never go beyond what the ends demand. Buzz saws are for example a very frightening tool and the director knows how to make use of such things to force the adrenaline level to skyrocket. Next to that the director knows how to keep the tension up in general as well. There is never any lean time, there is constantly something happening and the script hasn't been artificially blown up by introducing lots and lots of different parties. Nevertheless, this is exactly why there would have been room for some more character elaboration.

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With its 90 minutes "A Special Lady" has a pretty short running time. Since, as already said, there isn't much exploration going on with the characters this is a better choice than to keep dragging the movie on and on. What's also nice is that there are no good characters here. Especially the prosecutor becomes more and more ruthless and threatening as things progress, even more than Lim, although this shouldn't really be the case. But Lim struggles with his spurned love too often. In this respect the ending actually manages to be surprisingly touching, but with its last scene of a flashback director Lee once again quotes other works too blatantly. Even though this film may be a nice ride, it clearly lacks the originality of a "The Villainess", which also managed to utilize its female protagonist as a better and more convincing action heroine. Particularly since she got more background story. Despite that you shouldn't listen to anyone bad-mouting "A Special Lady".

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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