Story: Hyeon-joon (Shin Hyeon-joon) is a professional killer and doesn't care about anything besides his job. He has no friends and lives
together with his alcohol-addicted mother (Kim Hye-ok), who thinks that he is working for the government. One day a new job involves killing a man in his sleep.
The job seems too easy for Hyeon-joon which is why he becomes suspicious. In fact, his victim turns out to be the young woman Jin-yeong (Kang Hye-jeong), who
has already several suicide attempts behind her and therefore hired him. Hyeon-joon refuses to carry out the task. But not only chance encounters are the
reason for the two to constantly run into each other, Hyeon-joon also can't get the woman out of his head and thus tries to meet her. It turns out that
Jin-yeong has suicide thoughts because of her boyfriend who left her. Soon loan sharks turn up at the woman's doorstep, because she borrowed some money
in order to pay Hyeon-joon. Since she is still alive she has to pay the money back including an horrendous interest. Hyeon-joon deals with the
gangsters but he can't carry out his jobs satisfactory anymore.
Review: At first you might be led to believe that this is a romantic comedy, but then the element of a hired killer is added to the film -
so maybe it's a romantic drama after all? All wrong (or right), because at the end a surprisingly well working genre mix hides behind "Kiss Me, Kill Me",
which strangely enough manages to score with its unpolishedness. Cinematically not everything is perfect and sometimes you will even raise your eyebrows
over some things, but every time it is relevant the movie breaks away from the well-known and by that slowly but surely wins over the viewer's heart. It
also helps a lot that the two characters are carried by two great actors and aren't just empty shells. The chemistry between the two is good as well.
It should be pointed out up front that the movie plays a lot with the element of fate. Over and over again there are moments that go a little bit over the
top to say the least. Accordingly you would expect numerous clichés in other places as well, but they aren't to be found elsewhere. This even starts with the
hired killer. A story revolving around sudden moral qualms? Far from it. Hyeon-joon may not love his job, he also isn't proud of what he does, as he
tells his mother that he works as a federal agent, but it still is what he does. Up to a certain point that works out pretty well for him, because
the killer doesn't really think about anything. But even as Jin-yeong enters his life his attitude towards his profession doesn't just change out of the blue.
It's simply that a new feeling starts to grow within him.
This brings us to one of the movie's pecularities. Of course the director never makes the mistake to let the protagonist kill someone who most likely has a
clean slate right in front us, but there is still never any doubt that Hyeon-joon is a killer. Fortunately, Shin Hyeon-joon
("His Last Gift", "Marrying the Mafia 2") succeeds in bestowing the much needed depth
upon the killer. Shin is also well-known for playing incredibly ludicrous roles, because of his distinctive look, but he certainly impresses with his more
serious portrayals. The humor in "Kiss Me, Kill Me" doesn't fall by the wayside, though. Thankfully it isn't made up of cheap slapstick, but of
deadpan humor or well done situational comedy at times. Apart from that some scenes are deliberately so odd that you will remember them for a while.
Next to him we have Kang Hye-jeong ("Love Phobia", "Oldboy"), who brings out a lot of her role as a wannabe-suicide. The circumstances under which the two protagonists get closer are very unusual and prevent the movie from ever feeling like a corny romance flick, because despite all the comedy we have characters drawn in a believable manner here who are plagued by fear and doubt. And it surely isn't a small effort by director Yang Jong-hyeon to convincingly flesh out a killer and a woman who doesn't want to live anymore in his debut work while at the same time occasionally throwing in comical moments that actually work out. Particualarly Jin-yeong's suicide attempts or Hyeon-joon's killings are oftentimes funny without being crude!
The odd genre mix demands a lot of the screenplay, which can't convince all of the time. Also, in technical respects the editing and soundtrack can't keep up with the best of the genre all of the time either. But this unpolishedness gives the movie just the more character. Generally, the relationship is brought to screen very convincingly, though, and especially some apparently corny moments are suddenly taking a comedic turn. By that the director proves good taste. At the end there are also a few twists and some of them can even be surprising. You might want to keep your tissues close, too. But even at the end "Kiss Me, Kill Me" doesn't become vulgar, but instead convinces with a notedly well achieved balance between romance, thriller, drama and comedy. Some final touches to the screenplay would have worked wonders, but even the way things are you just have to give a commendatory thumbs-up.