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Film / The Villainess

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The Villainess, also known as Aknyeo, is a 2017 action-drama from South Korea, adapting elements from Luc Besson's Nikita and mixing it with its own brand of martial arts action.

The title "villainess" is Sook-hee, an expert assassin who is forced into working for a government agency. As an agent, she begins life anew, raising her daughter and falling in love with her next-door neighbor. But she is still driven to solve the murders of her father and husband. Those mysteries will come to tragic conclusions.

In January 2019, Deadline Entertainment announced that a TV series produced by Hollywood is in pre-production, directed by Jung Byung-gil.


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This movie provides examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: During the final fight aboard the speeding bus, Sook-hee chops off the driver's hand to cause it to crash.
  • An Ax To Grind: Sook-hee uses a hatchet to fight Joong-sang, and eventually kill him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sook-hee has lost her best friend and her family, the latter of whom were killed by her former husband Joong-sang. But she has her vengeance against him.
  • Book-Ends: Sook-hee being confronted by the police, while covered in blood, after massacring a group of criminals.
  • Broken Bird: Sook-hee, all throughout.
  • Evil Laugh: Sook-hee gives one at the end, when the police catch her after she murders Joong-sang. The film cuts to the title card as this happens, suggesting she has embraced her nature as a "villainess."
  • Expy: There are some similarities Sook-hee has with O-Ren Ishii and the Bride. Like the former, she's a trained assassin who watched her father get murdered (while hiding underneath a bed). Like the latter, she's motivated by her daughter, and ultimately fights and kills the girl's father.
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  • Gone Horribly Right Joong-sang wanted a badass, merciless assassin, and that's exactly what he got.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera leaves Joong-sang out of the frame as Sook-hee kills him with an axe.
  • Faking the Dead: Joong-sang.
  • Infant Immortality: Tragically averted.
  • The Oner: The opening and ending fight scenes are filmed in long, nearly-seamless tracking shots.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Sook-hee goes on two of these. The first is to avenge her dead ex-husband, which is ultimately unnecessary, and the other is to avenge her dead husband and daughter, whom the ex-husband killed.
  • Slasher Smile: Given by Sook-hee to the police after they catch her murdering Joong-sang.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Sook-hee watches her father die as a child, and becomes an assassin to avenge him. She falls in love, only to see her husband be killed. She's captured while avenging him and is made into a government agent against her will. She falls in love and marries her neighbor, who is another agent spying on her. Her best friend in the agency is killed during a mission gone wrong, and her superior blames her for it. She discovers her former husband is both alive and her father's murderer, and he proceeds to murder her family as well. And for all this, the man says he did this all to her because he could. It's hard to not sympathize with her by the end.
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