DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
Recommended to me on my Lend me your Heart list (which can be found here)
It does not happen often that when I watch a film that follows all the genre tropes diligently and does just about everything I've already seen before, it still manages to reach the level that this film does. This film succeeds in that because of one simple thing that is difficult to achieve in this genre: emotional involvement.
The idea of the mysterious stranger as a hero has been done to death before and here it is no different. Heck, his backstory is as predictable as it is melodramatic. But I simply could not care less. The way he is portrayed and the way the little girl with whom he forms a deep connection is portrayed is so soberly done, grounded in strong realism that it is simply impossible to not feel some sort of connection to them. It also in a weird way made the contrast with the typical, maliciously evil villains work so much better. The fact that we truly care about the plight of our heroes is the real basis for the strength of it.
But remember now, this is still a Korean revenge film, so we do need some torture and some intense fighting. What I found rather refreshing here is that, especially in the first two acts, this film doesn't go for the easy, gratuitous gore and violence. It saves its most intensely violent scenes for the final act and I have to say that was one of the best choreographed fight scenes I have seen in quite some time. It is brutal and beautiful at the same time. Not to sound repetitive, but again, about half of the intensity I felt was there because of the emotional involvement I already made with the two protagonists.
A quaint film that manages to pull your heartstrings and raise your adrenaline levels at the same time.