John Wick meets Taken in Korean action thriller The Killer. Which is sure to please action fans searching for a fun brutal experience, filled with style, a decent story, twists, and lots of blood. With a presentation similar to 1990s Hong Kong action films combined with an unrelenting anti-hero, director Jae-Hoon Choi offers fun thrills that are both slick and stylish.
When hitman Bang Ui Gang’s charming wife asks him to babysit her friend’s teenage daughter, he figures things are going to be pain for him. But when he takes an easy out, things get more complicated than he could ever imagine. As he takes it upon himself to protect the girl and hunt down anyone that even thinks about harming her.
But even with Gang’s high-level mercenary skills, he is one man many against many. Forcing him to focus and hone his techniques to bring the girl back in one piece. If taking out mafia members is a challenge, having to track her down and solve the mystery behind why she’s being hunted is a far more difficult task ahead of him. One that will require risking everything to get to the bottom of everything going on.
Solving the mystery turns out to be the biggest web he’s got himself into. What seems to be a group of young punks delving in a life of crime escalates into organized crime that has permeated some of the highest positions of society. When people somehow know too much, or the timing of things seems to be more than a fluke, the events that unfold are more than a coincidence. The Killer does a great job at fostering intrigue and providing a convincing and engrossing story.
An Unrelenting Anti-Hero
If there’s one trait that embodies Gang’s demeanor, it’s how calm he remains throughout the ordeal. Even as the odds are stacked against him while he faces potential life in prison, he does not smile or get angry. He simply plans a strategy and executes with a fortitude that would give John Wick a run for his money.
When he finds himself in the aftermath of a costly mistake, this calculated killer takes it as opportunity to turn the potential loss into a massive gain. And with his stoic, emotionless approach you’d never realize how well he plans his next move. Which provides a nice contrast against the cocky members of organized crime that think their next move will finally get him right where they want him.
Comparisons to John Wick and Taken are no mistake here. Bang has the steadfast mettle of John Wick, and the uncompromising, clever mystery solving of Bryan Mills (Taken). Watching these the traits of these two combined into a single character is refreshing, engrossing, and compelling in a manner few films achieve.
Heart Amongst the Darkness
But perhaps the best feature of the entire story is how Bang, despite being a cold killer, has somehow kept his heart intact throughout the darkness. A sort of light shining against the pitch-black work. As much as he tries to distance himself personally from his line of work, he still reflects on what may have been the one job that may have been a mistake. The one time he was offered kindness and made what he thinks was the wrong decision.
Watching these characteristics intertwine provides for a fascinating watch. As you have the loving husband, a relentless mercenary, and a man pondering his biggest mistake. It makes his character relatable, and you can’t help but root for him against the bad guys. Even when he’s doing some pretty awful stuff himself.
Everything Comes Together
The Killer (2022) is a Korean thriller with heart and action that is entertaining. While we have lots of action and a little mystery, the ending does a decent job of bringing together the humanity of the characters. As we get towards the end, what matters most isn’t how well Bang can raise a fist or take a life. Rather it’s whether he is willing to reach out and lend a hand to those in need.
Although he’s quite capable of protecting anyone, it takes a special person to know how to save someone’s life and be there in their darkest hour. When Bang is asked for his kindness, he does not hesitate to offer his care and concern. Given how willing he is to put everything on the line for a good person, we can only hope to strive to be as strong, gracious, and merciful as he can be.
*When the credits roll, don’t forget to stay and see the stunts and bloopers from the making of this film. The Killer may be a gritty story, but there was clearly fun to be had in the making!