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Kill Boksoon - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Gil Bok-soon

South Korea 2023

Action, Drama

Byun Sung-Hyun

Jeon Do-yeon
Sol Kyung-gu
Kim Si-a
Koo Kyo-hwan
Kim Sung-oh
Lee Yeon
Kim Ki-cheon
Hwang Jung-min

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Kill Boksoon

Kill Boksoon - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Gil Boksoon (Jeon Do-yeon) works for an association of contract killers. The head of this "company" called "MK", Cha Min-gyoo (Sol Kyung-gu), set up some rules and has a ranking system for his employees. Boksoon is ranked the highest and completes even the most difficult jobs without much effort. But she is a thorn in the side of the boss's sister (Esom), who also is the vice director. Boksoon actually does not want to renew her expiring contract as she wants to take care of her teenage daughter Jae-yeong (Kim Si-a), who's shutting her mother out more and more. But her boss is determined to make her stay with the company. During her next big assignment, however, Boksoon decides not to finish the job as she feels remorse. The boss's sister now sees a chance to finally let her go, but Cha Min-gyoo has known the killer for ages now and makes every effort to protect her. Which leads to some unfortunate developments. While Boksoon has to try to live through the next day, she is also getting increasingly exasperated with her daughter, who might be expelled from school because she attacked a classmate. The daughter has already built a big wall between herself and her mother, but the same can be said about Boksoon...

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Kill Boksoon - Film Screenshot 4

Review: I didn't expect much from "Kill Boksoon", because some critics, whose opinion I value, found the movie quite disappointing. Nevertheless, there are also some critics who are absolutely enthusiastic about the flick. Now that I was able to see it for myself, I first want to address the aspects that some people did not seem to like about this Netflix movie. On the one hand, there is the marketing, because it's not only the trailer that makes you believe that this is a (revenge) action flick, but clearly the title gives off that impression too, even though it is actually just a pun on the name of the protagonist "Gil". In fact, the heroine does not have that many problems with her job but rather with her daughter, which makes the movie into a drama most of the time. This also leads to the fact that the story does not seem very balanced. In addition, the numerous supporting characters make the director lose a little bit of focus here and there, as well.

Kill Boksoon - Film Screenshot 5

Let's begin with the introduction, which seems to set the tone but might also be misunderstood. Because the opening sequence is not indicating that we get to see numerous action scenes with a lot of blood-shed later on, but rather that the focus is on the dialogues and that we might sometimes get anticlimactic resolutions when it comes to fights. Hwang Jung-min ("The Point Men") obviously enjoys his cameo and gets the most out of his role during his brief time on screen. The same can be said about the rest of the cast too. There are a lot of supporting characters that are surprisingly three-dimensional. Unfortunately, the problem is that even though they get enough screen time, they simply disappear later on and do not play any important part for the rest of the movie anymore. At the same time, a common theme noticeably isn't anywhere to be found.

Kill Boksoon - Film Screenshot 6

Of course, there are also some action scenes featured that are not that bad. In particular, Byun Sung-Hyun's ("Kingmaker") innovative directing manages to score points, as it sometimes captures a scene in a puddle, or spins around a wall, so that we watch Boksoon and her possible successor taking turns eliminating adversaries, while every one of them is almost in their very own room. Sadly, the action is not that impressive, as it is quite obvious that Jeon Do-yeon ("Beasts Clawing at Straws") is not a martial artist and therefore some scenes are played back at a faster speed. Fortunately, the camera does not shake around too much in order to disguise certain shortcomings, and thankfully, the action has a lot of impact - you can literally feel the blows and the movie is not stingy when it comes to violence either, even though the CGI blood should have been replaced by practical effects.

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In addition, one of Boksoon's strengths is her analytical assessment of situations. This means that she can predict the outcome of a fight simply based on possible strategies. But it is frequently used as a stylistic device to let the heroine literally walk right into a knife, only to then show us that everything just happened in Boksoon's head. During the finale, this is pushed to extremes and you might even say that this makes things quite anticlimactic. Despite some nice action scenes, the strength of the flick is clearly the relationship between mother and daughter, though. While some of the protagonist's decisions are quite inexplicable and the script should have offered more in that respect - even though Boksoon is all about building a closer relationship to her daughter, she completely ignores the chance to do so when it is handed to her on a silver platter -, the acting performances between Jeon and Kim Si-ah ("The Closet") manage to convince us at all times and draw us into the real story of the movie. Although the script has plot holes in other respects too, mother and daughter are well-written.

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The frustrated teenager, who is also a lesbian and afraid of being bullied (which still a problem in Korea), and the mother, who has to keep her job a secret and therefore unintentionally distances herself from her daughter whose emotional wall she actually wants to tear down, generate the real suspense in the movie, and the action seems more like filler. But the interesting relationship between Boksoon and her boss, played by Sol Kyung-gu ("Yaksha"), should be mentioned too. Emotions are used quite nicely in "Kill Boksoon" in order to win the viewer over for the story, even though it might be a little too long with a running time of 137 minutes. The fact that the drama is interwoven so effectively is also the reason the flick finally managed to convince me. The story sometimes tries to go into too many directions, but the mother-daughter relationship grounds the movie and the action is just a nice bonus. You simply need to adjust your expectations and not expect another "John Wick" here - a comparison that is used too excessively lately anyway. That being said, "Kill Boksoon" is definitely a recommendable action drama.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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