Good Ol’ Review: Jeon Do Yeon Captivates in Pulpy “Kill Boksoon”

Kill Boksoon Review

No spoilers.

Jeon Do Yeon is absolutely captivating as she kicks ass on Netflix’s Kill Boksoon (길복순). The film is an emotional character piece masked as a pulpy, gritty thriller. Unrelenting action gives way to relatable family drama for an overall engaging story.

When Gil Boksoon (Jeon Do Yeon) isn’t carrying out jobs as an elite hired assassin, she is at home trying to be the best mother to her teenage daughter Jaeyoung (Kim Si Ah). Booksoon does what she can to shield her daughter from the truth about her violent career. But that secrecy increasingly begins to take a toll on their relationship. And the job and her painful past soon catch up with her.

The film wastes no time illustrating just how skilled Boksoon is. A stealthy fighter, but also strategic and intelligent, Boksoon is known throughout the shadows where a busy network of assassin groups work to carry out the deadly tasks from their wealthy and powerful clients.

Kill Boksoon takes a little while to establish this world while also laying down the foundation for the familial angst that Booksoon and Jaeyoung experience. Both have their own emotional struggles that they choose to keep to themselves. And when it becomes obvious to Boksoon that her job might be growing that distance between them, it unexpectedly throws her reputation and her life in danger. Boksoon’s mentor Cha Min Kyu (Sol Kyung Gu) is the CEO of the biggest of the assassin companies and the two have a mutual respect. But even that relationship proves to shake the narrow tightrope Boksoon walks every day.

Even as the film features some high flying and very bloody action sequences, it is at its most engaging when it focuses on relatable and down to earth themes such as love and family.

The struggle Boksoon experiences as she decides whether or not to walk away from the world she’s been engulfed in since she was a teenager takes center stage. And Jeon Do Yeon has an effortless time breathing life into that struggle, making you feel her emotions with something as simple as a look or a glance in both quiet and explosive moments.

At its core, this is a story about the relationship between a mother and daughter. Of course, with a very unique circumstance. But a relatable story nonetheless that allows you to be engaged with the film’s narrative even when it segues into well-choregraphed battles of deadly hand-to-hand combat.

The film might feel a bit too long by the end. But Jeon Do Yeon’s performance grabs you and never lets go until the very last seconds. Her chemistry with both Kim Si Ah and Sol Kyung Gu are the main drivers of the story development as you hang on every moment the characters share with each other.

Kill Boksoon Review

The high stakes and almost unconscionable business of Boksoon’s work is a fascinating situation to serve as the backdrop of what is ultimately a depiction of common parent-child relationships, especially in the present day. And when answers are provided later in the film, it makes the eventual climax all the more impactful.

Again, while the film is far from perfect, it is nonetheless a refreshingly bold experience in Korean entertainment. The film’s pulpy and dynamic action works to highlight its more character-driven and emotional aspects of the story. And together with a strong cast led by the always great Jeon Do Yeon, it makes for a thoroughly thrilling ride.

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