willy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sook-hee.. why are you shaking?
wait, she's korean chinese??
it's been a lil while now since i first (and 2nd time) saw this, so the fact that i missed it (or the significance thereof) then, isn't surprising, but wow, as if this little miracle of a film could've gone any more full circle.
from watching HK dvds tryna figure out what to do with life, to ending up in stuntman school and then a director after all, jung byung-gil, with kim ok-bin at his hand made what is in my mind unquestionably the definitive action film of the 2010's.
(and before you say john wick, the best of that series was - amongst others - already directly influenced by this, i saw it in theatres!)
he felt the same metal against his own skin during training (that's stuntschool, since military service is still mandatory), and she's been doing martial arts since before ever stepping infront of a camera. two outlier talents who found themselves against the odds, in an industry that these days greatly lacks this kind of raw innovation that made them known.
this wins before most of its contendors even step up to the plate, because it takes homage to a different level, internalizing it completely, and then stacking influences into something entirely unseen. if your average homage was a bunch of dialogue references and puns, this film is the equivalent of a living person whose personality has fused with what shaped them over a lifetime. this is asian film. hong kong and korea, sitting at the top, feet dangling. no competition. it just isn't in the water anywhere else like it is there. south asia closest runner ups since their industries never made it that far.
hong kong is about to push a bill no HK citizen voted for that will officially absorb them into china for good. marking perhaps the official end of hong kong cinema as we occasionally still get to see it.
south korea, a country still at war that effectively never stopped operating like a dictatorship, is currently planning to expand their already pretty intrusive censorship.
what am i trying to say.. reiteration of what i been saying. i doubt that the incredible 360 degree bus finale will be matched any time soon, by anything, because the only way shit like this can even exist is as outlet for explosive fucking venting. it's videogame like, but in games it's not real people carrying the shit out on screen. he worked as a stuntman where his fellow collegues would just fucking die sometimes to bring us that extra bit closer to the edge when the surround sound hits (seriously, watch his documentary), for our venting. this is not fast-food lowest common denominator shit made with 2000 crew members on autopilot based on what algorythms predict will work for children as well as adults, nor is it flashy gimmicks quickly cooked up in hopes of temporary viral resonance. this is history, made by people who are trying to extend their own existence, which they can't take for granted, even when time would appear to be on their side.
this films imperfections are what make it special. it's a marriage of tradition and break-neck innovation that speeds u truh the history of south korean film all the way past the meter into an uncertain future, sometimes almost literally feeling like you're losing the ground under your feet as rules of gravity get bent. as the cameras they use to try and capture this shit fail to keep up. VR without headset, she runs so far trying to escape her reality that she stretches the limits of the whole freakin medium of film.
The Villainess, 2017 - made by a stuntman turned director
The Trough, 2018 - made by an actor turned director
this is what cinema would have been like if they had imax cameras when kingdoms fell. it'll be painful history one day, but i already shed tears today.