As someone who prides themselves on trying not to buy into marketing and ideas before seeing a film, I failed myself when I kept being nuanced with ads for Jae-Hoon Choi’s newest film, The Killer, and considering the fact it’s a South Korean film being pegged as ‘John Wick’ my anticipation and hopes for the film to fire on all cylinders were through the roof. However, I was disappointed and I realized it was because the marketing wasn’t wrong, it is ‘John Wick’, but I’ve seen John Wick, and I didn’t want to see another iteration of John Wick, I wanted to see a crazy intense 95 minute action set piece of a retired hitman taking no shit and taking out everyone who stands in his way. So with that being said, if you’re looking for something more nuanced and less of a pure blood bath, The Killer absolutely hits the mark, just expect something oddly familiar.
The film focuses on Bang Ui Gang played by Jang Hyuk whose a retired hitman and is tasked with a request by his wife as she goes on vacation. The person she is going on the trip with has a 17 year old daughter, Kim Yoon-Ji played by Lee Seo-young, and tasks her husband to protecting the girl from getting into any trouble. While she finds herself in some trouble, as teenagers do, Bang Ui Gang now has to find her from the gangsters she got mixed up with and protect her.
Throughout all of this, the plot is truly missing any heart or reasoning behind it. Even the task itself is awkward, asking a childless man to babysit your friends 17 year old step daughter, if that isn’t the plot for something else I don’t know what else is, but The Killer doesn’t want you to think about the plot, it wants you to focus on the action which it delivers. The action is top notch and when its fully going, it’s a great time, but when the meandering plot that is as senseless as the over the top gory action is, the movie loses its footing and is rather dull. Stay for the killing in The Killer, but leave your brain at the door as the plot truly isn’t what the audiences are after anyways.