(Movie Review) 'Kill Boksoon' explores juggling motherhood in assassin action thriller
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- The upcoming Netflix movie "Kill Boksoon" revolves around a legendary female assassin, but the action-packed thriller is a stylish, witty drama of a mother's desperate efforts to find work-life balance between contract killing and parenting.
Cannes best actress winner Jeon Do-yeon stars as the titular lead character, Gil Boksoon, a top assassin who leads a double life as a mother to a teenage daughter, Jae-young (Kim Si-a), going through a turbulent adolescence.
Boksoon has never missed a target and is the highest-paid contract killer in MK Ent., an assassination company established by Cha Min-kyu (Seol Kyung-gu). She knows how to do an impeccable job: whether it's killing a person, a group of gangs or staging a suicide with whatever is available.
At home, she is an ordinary mother who tries but often fails to connect with her daughter, who confessed to being a lesbian and having trouble at her elite private school.
For Boksoon, parenting is harder than her highly risky job, saying, "It is simple to kill a person, compared with raising a child."
Feeling contradictory emotions around motherhood, she refuses to complete her assigned mission and becomes the prime target of fellow assassins. She ends up in a final battle in which the last person standing survives.
Jeon, who is known for her roles as emotionally distraught women in acclaimed movies "Secret Sunshine" (2007) and "The Housemaid" (2010), shows her wide range of acting in the neo-noir crime action featuring betrayals and bloodbaths.
The 50-year-old shifts between a ruthless hit man in fast-paced action sequences and a fragile, concerned mother in her domestic life.
Director Byun Sung-hyun, who showed stylish mise-en-scene in "The Merciless," (2017), unfolds the female assassin's double life story in high-octane scenes with choreographed fight scenes and artistic uses of computer-generated imagery.
The movie is filled with martial arts mayhem, punches, kicks and shoot-outs, and some scenes confuse audiences with real fights and imaginations.
In the film that has shades of the American action thriller "John Wick" series, Byun differentiates the plotline from the classic hit man's story by following a teenager's mom who is juggling her professional career and parenting.
Once again, Jeon delivers the essence of her character and proves why she's one of the most sought-after actors in the Korean film scene.
"Kill Boksoon" made its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival's Special section on Saturday, ahead of its worldwide launch on Netflix on March 31.
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