the villainess review

This review originally ran during our coverage of the Fantasia Film Festival. The Villainess is in select North American theaters today.

The opening of The Villainess is dangerous. An exhilarating, first-person POV hallway fight scene that leaves a lot of unnamed henchmen in bloodied heaps is thankfully smart enough to (cleverly) shift away from the first-person angle just when you start wondering if the next two hours of your life are going to be a video game you aren’t in control of. The move expands our view of the stunningly choreographed action and announces a hint of the innovation yet to come. Yes, it’s dangerous, and like a lot of dangerous things – a mile-high tightrope walk, hanging to the outside of a C130 in flight, killing Keanu Reeves’ dog – it’s also thrilling when done right.

Read More »

the villainess

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition we take a look at some underseen Asian action films from the past ten years.)

2017 has already been one heck of a year for action movies with the likes of John Wick: Chapter Two and Atomic Blonde delighting theatrical audiences while others including Free Fire and Plan B (my favorite action film of the year so far) wowed festival goers. The rest of the year holds promise as well, with the upcoming release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner, and Gerard Butler’s Geostorm…never mind. I can’t even finish that joke.

One of the year’s best, Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess, is hitting theaters in limited release this week, and if it opens near you I must insist you buy a ticket, have a seat, and prepare yourself for two hours of beautifully choreographed action, ridiculous plot turns, and even more fantastically entertaining action. It’s a memorable ride and adds to the argument that we’re in the heyday of action cinema with many of the best coming our way from Asian shores. Keep reading for a look at some of the best recent action films from Japan, Cambodia, China, and elsewhere that you probably haven’t seen.

Read More »