FANTASIA FEST 2022: ‘The Killer’ Is Action Done Right

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The Killer - But Why Tho

An adaptation of the novel The Child Who Deserves to Die by Bang Jin-ho, The Killer manages to hit tropey action goodness while excelling in being something uniquely, well, great. Directed by Choi Jae-Hoon, with a screenplay from Nam Ji-Woong, the film centers on Eui-Kang (Jang Hyuk), a retired mercenary who loves his wife more than anything. And that love means he is easily forced to babysit a 17-year-old-girl, Yoon-ji (Anne), against his will for three weeks while his wife and the girl’s mother take a trip to Jeju Island.

This alone as a premise works immediately. Merc turned babysitter is a dynamic that made me immediately add The Killer to the my festival watch list for Fantasia Fest 2022. And while I would have been content with just the two of them connecting across a generational divide and the complete awkwardness of a guy who kills being thrust into dad-mode, The Killer has grander plans. On the first night, Yoon-ji goes out with friends and becomes the target of a human-trafficking ring that gets rich from child prostitution. When Yoon-ji is kidnapped, Eui-Kang quickly reverts to his murderous instincts, setting the city on fire to find her.

But the best part of The Killer is that director Choi never loses sight of the story or the humor for the sake of his high-octane action moments. So while I can praise the fight choreography and action editing, the truth is that The Killer excels in this genre because each moment of brutal violence has a purpose. Each kill moves the story along, each fight has bite, and in all of it, there is sick humor that borders on camp and absolutely works. Instead of the film going the way of a dark crime thriller, it’s a neon-soaked action race to save a girl that never misses a step.

Additionally, Jang Hyuk as Eui-Kang drives all of this home. His outstanding physicality in the role allows him to excel at the fight sequences, his charisma helps him land his quips, and his ability to emote helps him capture the audience as a mostly silent protagonist who uses his body to sell the story more than his words.

Jang’s ability to complete intense and dynamic fight sequences that range from one-take hallway fights and point-blank assassinations to the film’s opening ax-throwing fight (yes, it opens with a whole ax fight) with a stoicism and intimidation sells everything about his character. Holding a coffee in one hand and executing in the other, there is a banality to death that grounds Eui-Kang as a character who has seen it all, but never as one who doesn’t care deeply about saving someone he deems important to him or in need of his help.

Truthfully, for fans of the humor and action of John Wick, The Killer is right up their alley. Throw in the fact that many of the fight scenes are shot in sequence, as showcased in the end credits, and boom! A recipe for a great film that ticks every box on my action fan checklist.

The Killer had its North American premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival 2022.


The Killer
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Truthfully, for fans of the humor and action of John Wick, The Killer is right up their alley. Throw in the fact that many of the fight scenes are shot in sequence, as showcased in the end credits, and boom! A recipe for a great film that ticks every box on my action fan checklist.

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