FOR THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO SEE KILL BOKSOON, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
Kill Boksoon, Netflix’s South Korean action extravaganza is coming out just a week after John Wick: Chapter 4… And with many similarities to that beloved franchise: like an underground assassin community and a hero trying to get themselves out of the game… Does this flick bring anything new to the table?
WHAT IS KILL BOKSOON ALL ABOUT?
Kill Boksoon follows the titular Gil Boksoon who has been the top-tier assassin for the top-tier assassin syndicate for years. But she is also the mother of a sixteen-year-old daughter who has no idea that the seemingly straight-laced, uptight Boksoon is really a cold-blooded killer. As tension amongst the assassin companies mounts, and our anti-heroines contract is about to end… will Boksoon choose to finally just be a regular parent, or will her past deeds come to haunt her and keep her trapped in this life forever?
TOO MUCH LIKE JOHN WICK?
After binge-watching the first three John Wick movies in anticipation of the fourth, I then immediately went to my screener of Kill Boksoon from Netflix… and it was difficult not to point out all of the similarities. But, just like the 2021 Bob Odenkirk-led Nobody was able to rise above the obvious comparisons… Kill Boksoon is able to, as well. If you look past all of the assassin secret society mythology and world-building (which, admittedly is pulled off very well here) this film also has so much heart and genuine substance.
THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP ELEVATES THE MATERIAL…
At its core, Kill Boksoon is about a struggling mother-daughter relationship. Both of them are keeping secrets close to their hearts, in fear that the other will not approve of them… and because of that, every ounce of their life is strained. As the movie progresses, and shit completely hits the fan, the two realize that they must open up to each other to survive. This poignant look at what every parent and child go through with one another, all through the heightened lens of a mother who also happens to be a murderer… is just one of the special twists that this movie has to offer.
Add to that some deliciously dark comedy, world-building that feels thought-out and not at all overbearing, a vast cast of delightfully twisted supporting characters, an eclectic score that ranges from jazz noir to spaghetti western and grunge techno… Kill Boksoon really has so many tricks up its sleeve that there is no doubt you will constantly be entertained. Oh, and I haven’t even touched on the action scenes yet…
HOW ARE THE ACTION SEQUENCES?
Well, long story short, they kick ass. Writer-director Sung Hyun-byun and his team have crafted some masterful action sequences that Chad Stahelski would certainly give a standing ovation. The insane fight choreography, wildly creative cinematography, and brutal violence lead to at least four explosive set pieces that absolutely took my breath away. It must be mentioned though, that this 140-minute movie isn’t just action… There’s a lot more to unpack here, and those kinetic sequences of combat are just the icing on the cake.
And lastly, before I dive into some of my negatives. I have to commend lead actress Jeon Do-yeon for her incredibly layered performance as Gil Boksoon. Just as Michelle Yeoh did in her Oscar-winning performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once, Jeon is given the enormous task of juggling quirkiness and comedy, with super physical choreography and hard-hitting emotional beats… And she hits every nuance of this character out of the park. I was completely unfamiliar with her until this film and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
I only have a few complaints about Kill Boksoon, and they are very minor ones. I do think the path the narrative takes is a little predictable, though there are numerous moments that did take me by surprise. Also, the film does get weighed down a bit by its exposition and bevy of characters… which leads to a runtime that some have complained is too long, but honestly, I think it would have worked better as an expanded limited series. Finally, while the climax of Kill Boksoon was jaw-dropping and utterly visceral, the ending did leave off with a whimper.
IS KILL BOKSOON WORTH CHECKING OUT?
As a huge fan of South Korean cinema, it’s always so exciting to see another expertly crafted piece of genre-filmmaking. And Kill Boksoon fits that bill. If you are still feeling the adrenaline-rush from John Wick: Chapter 4 and are craving some more of “where that came from”, then definitely do not sleep on this fantastic little gem.
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