There’s a throb of menace driving this gonzo action-thriller from South Korean director Hong Won-chan, who wrote the screenplays for The Yellow Sea and The Chaser. This was a big box-office hit on its home turf.
Hwang Jung-min is In-nam, a former cop turned paid assassin who has just whacked a yakuza in Tokyo, and now this dead man’s fanatically violent blood-brother Ray (Lee Jung-jae) is out for revenge. To add to this, In-nam hears that his former girlfriend has been killed in Bangkok, following a bungled attempt to make contact with the kidnappers of her nine-year-old daughter – and the child is still alive, in the abductors’ hands. So In-nam journeys to Thailand on a desperate redemptive mission to save this little girl, with the scary and blood-thirsty Ray on his trail, and the only person in Bangkok who can help him is Yui (Park Jung-min); Yui is a transgender woman who, for all that she is no mobster, manages at one stage to ram a van with her pickup truck, saving In-nam’s life.
The twin storylines should undermine the film’s pace and focus. They don’t. There are some impressively spectacular shootouts in the streets and a Bourne-level rooftop chase, together with some very crunchy close-quarters martial arts. Hwang, his face almost always covered in beads of sweat, is a very persuasive and impassive action hero and Lee is creepy and uproariously over the top. Could he be a Bond villain in the years to come? The 007 franchise could certainly do a lot worse.
Released on digital formats on 4 January.