The Killer at Fantasia Festival 2022

The Killer
South Korea | Korean
2022 | 94 Minutes
Director: Choi Jae-hun
Cast: Jang Hyuk, Lee Seo-young


Not to be confused with the John Woo film of the same name – and a few others with similar titles, this one is based on the book named The Child Who Deserves To Die, by Bang Jin-ho.

Against his will, Eui-kang (Jang Hyuk) is forced to take in a 17-year-old girl, Yoon-ji (Anne of the K-pop group GWSN), for three weeks while his wife goes on a trip with the girl’s mother. On the first night, the young woman goes out with friends and becomes the target of a human-trafficking ring that gets rich from child prostitution. But what this sordid criminal organization doesn’t know is that Eui-kang is actually a retired assassin, an expert in martial arts, knives, and ballistics. When Yoon-ji is kidnapped, he quickly reverts to his murderous instincts, setting the city on fire to find her.

Stylistically similar to the Hollywood franchise, John Wick, that stars Keanu Reeves – minus the dog, mixed with Nobody, Taken and perhaps even a few elements from films such as Equilibrium or I Saw The Devil and Old Boy.  That is to stay that The Killer is filled to the brim with stylized, ferocious acts of gratuitous violence. So much violence!

See Also: Fantasia Festival really is the cat’s meow!

But that is a lot more to The Killer than just another punch-em-up romp riot. The story here is quite strong and although it does tread along a similar path as the Taken trilogy, does so at its own pace. Honestly, yes, most – if not all – of what is found is this film has been done elsewhere. The plot revolves around a kidnapped teenager that is taken away and forced into an international sex trafficking ring that targets children. The main character sets out, with his particular set of skills, to knock the snot out of all the bad guys that dare stand in his way. Nothing new there in any way shape or form, but there is a certain something special in the deliverance of the plot that makes it worthwhile. There are a few twists, but none that are overtly shocking, nothing that will blindside its audience.

At its root, it is but another action film, where the main character hacks, stabs, shoots and punches his way through a seedy criminal organization, all the way to top in an attempt to right a wrong and save the girl. I happen to enjoy films of this ilk. Sometimes, I just want to kick back, let the brain relax a little and just watch a couple hours of good, old fashioned ultra-violence. Quite simply, if you liked the John Wick series – this is for you. And if you didn’t, this isn’t going to suit you very well.

There is a strong comedic element at play here too, with some solid and often hilarious banter between the two main characters. Despite being in Korean – the subtitled dialogue is often very pleasing, funny and pretty rude. This is where The Killer stands out from the above mentioned films and triumphs. Especially that back and forth segments that take place in the hospital scenes. Such strong dialogue helps to develop the characters and that is also something that most films of this caliber steer clear of.

The cinematography is well done, and has some very nice looking scenes. The Killer is an elegant film and also features a lot of great fight choreography and fun set pieces.  Eui-kang almost seems bored at times, as he batters bag guy after bad guy, ending several with unique and brutal maneuvers. Viscously dispatching people, after all, is the key element to this style of film – and The Killer, as the name implies, does so in abundance.

The bottom line is that this is a fun action film for fans of the genre that are not so much looking for new ground as they are just looking for a good, violent bit of film.