Are you vying for some more action coming off your viewing of John Wick: Chapter 4? Well, Netflix has something up their sleeve with the arrival of Kill Boksoon. Starring Crash Course in Romance‘s Jeon Do-yeon, writer/director Byun Sung-hyun crafts a film that feels familiar, yet still manages to excite with its beautifully-choreographed and shot action-sequences.
We’re introduced to Gil Boksoon (Jeon Do-yeon) on the job. Within the opening scene, the bar is set for the type of action scenes audiences will receive, but also for how awesome our leading lady killer is.
Boksoon is MK Ent’s top-tier killer, anticipating the moves of her opponents whether it’s the people she’s hired to kill or her moody teenage daughter. This ability along with her finesse at killing makes her a tough nut to crack.
Killers are not supposed to have weaknesses and, as she gets closer to her contract renewal, Boksoon’s ambivalence to continue this life reveals her own. With the relationship with her daughter fraying, that has become the priority.
When her boss and confidant, Cha Min-kyu (Sol Kyung-gu), ropes her into one final assignment, Boksoon will make a choice that sends a ripple effect that impacts everyone she knows.
While the plot itself goes where expected, the relationships depicted onscreen in Kill Boksoon make us invest easily. Part of this is due to the writing, providing the framework for the actors to bounce off on. The nuanced handling of the characters by its more than capable cast deserves the most credit.
The mother-daughter relationship we see onscreen between Boksoon and her daughter is multi-faceted. The more we learn about our legendary killer, the more we realize why Boksoon clings on. She wants to avoid repeating the past and break the cycle. But with puberty comes conflict and, as a single mother, Boksoon knows that she is in way over her head.
Do-yeon is a powerhouse. She crafts a fascinating inner world for Boksoon. Careful, efficient, loving, vengeful; we see flashes of all these sides of the killing legend. Mind you, Boksoon isn’t a good person, but Do-yeon injects a likability into the character with her natural charisma. You’ll want her to succeed while also realizing how dangerous she is by film’s end.
Equally compelling is Sol Kyung-gu’s Cha Min-kyu. A frequent collaborator of Byun Sung-hyun, his face is a familiar presence. While we get less screentime with Min-kyu, each moment he is onscreen, he steals attention. Min-kyu is complex, hiding his feelings for Boksoon whilst juggling his love and responsibility for his psychotic little sister, Cha Min-hee (Esom).
While capable of great love, it is in action scenes and private moments when Min-kyu lets the mask slip that we realize that his magnetism can’t hide his truly insidious nature.
I hate to admit this, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a prequel to Kill Boksoon. This is a testament to the strength of the characterization, direction, and performances delivered by Do-yeon and Min-kyu. Truly, the most magical scenes in Kill Boksoon are when we see Boksoon interact with Min-kyu.
We get considerably less time with Esom’s Cha Min-hee, but the unspoken history between these three characters is ripe for exploration if interest is there.
Now to get to the action. The action choreography, particularly for Boksoon, makes great use of each individual character’s strengths and weaknesses. The cinematography in these scenes makes these action sequences equally striking.
Whether fighting it out in an isolated train yard or a sketchy lived-in bar, creative visual choices are made that make these moments memorable.
These fights aren’t designed purely for the sake of titillating violence. Each fight has meaning and propels the story forward. Occasionally, some visual effects executed in these scenes can be a bit much, especially when we tap into Boksoon’s inner talent, but overall, even for this action film guppy, I was hooked.
From beginning to end, Kill Boksoon is an engaging watch. There’s a heavy mixture of strong, compelling relationships onscreen balanced with balls-to-the-wall action that will have viewers hooked.
There might be some comparisons to the recently-released John Wick movie, but Kill Boksoon has a clear and distinct identity. The only thing I can anticipate viewers disliking is the length and slight slipping in pacing in the film. Minor quibbles.
Stay for the violence, the mother-daughter relationships, and Jeon Do-yeon’s magnetic Boksoon. Kill Boksoon arrives exclusively on Netflix on March 31, 2023.