Korean Netflix Film Ballerina is Baller. I have gone with my friends (GMN as I call them, Guy Movie Night mates) out to see a John Wick film or two. I honestly can’t remember how many. Why? Because I’m not a fan. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love Keanu. I think he should have become a ballet dancer instead of an actor. The guy can move. But regardless, I’m not a huge fan of ceaseless violence without a raison d’etre. If the script doesn’t support it? Doesn’t provide a scaffolding for the action, then I’m not interested. It’s silly really.
But, bring me into a Hard Candy… revenge film for a purpose? Green Room. I Don’t Feel At Home in this World Anymore. Or Blue Ruin? Oh, yes please. Give it a larger purpose that logically makes sense? Yes, I do. I will marry you. Let’s elope now. Which is what we have here with the movie 발레리나… Ballerina. A 2023 South Korean hardcore action film directed by Lee Chung-hyun, starring Jeon Jong-seo, Kim Ji-hoon.
Ballerina Quick Overview
Ok-ju opens the movie by interceding on a stop and rob’s behalf. She steps up and confidently purchases something, gets change out of their loot, and then dismantles the bandits. And thus, establishing her bona-fides with the audience. She’s legit, and obviously messed up.
But as the story continues, we learn that Ok-ju stumbled into a friendship many years earlier with Min-hee… a Ballerina. But when the duo reconnect after a reprieve, Ok-ju discovers Min-hee dead in her bathtub. And there was a note that tells Ok-ju to get revenge, and she leaves a user name as a lead to start with.
Long story short? Ok-ju Hard Candies herself, and tempts Min-hee’s killer(?) – Choi – out of the shadows. Come to find out, he is a sexual predator, and Ok-ju saves herself and she tries to kill him. But, he gets away with a massive cut in his cheek. His boss informs him that he has 3 days to bring the girl to him. Choi and another thug attack her in the night, she flees by jumping through a window… and gets away. Choi though, in order to save his skin with his boss, tells him that he killed her, chopped her up, and buried her up in the mountains. But instead, he’s taken the one girl that he was abusing captive and, more determined than ever now, she goes looking for Choi. But instead of finding Min-hee’s killer, she finds Choi’s boss… whom she quickly kills, and then absolutely everyone at his drug warehouse emporium.
The stylistic perfection of the action and the gloriousness of design throughout make it obvious that this is nothing akin to reality. Instead, it’s a real life comic book.
The movie ends with Ok-ju finding Min-hee’s killer (technically Min-hee committed suicide, true, we all get that. But you understand what is going on here) out on the beach. Which, is convenient because she’s got her flame thrower with her as well. At first Choi seems like he’s making headway with his arguments to save his life. And then he insults Min-hee again… and that’s that. Up in flames he goes. There should have been zero surprise in the audience, zero… The entirety of this movie was heading this direction. And once the flame thrower was introduced as the biggest McGuffin in the history of cinema, you knew it was going to be used. I mean? Come on.
Ballerina is a Stylistic Baller
The reason I LOVED Chung-Hyun Lee‘s Ballerina was because of his ultra-stylistic cinematic design choices. This movie can compete with any John Wick or any super hero movie, or better. The darkness, the rain, the sheen of every shot? It’s a fantastic film beginning to end.
But I also liked the “discussion” about how, regularly, men in power, prey on women who can’t do anything to protect themselves. I mean, I didn’t LIKE that topic… but I liked the conversation it starts. It’s an interesting problem, and one that needs to be understood and accepted as a real issue by men today. But sure, flame me for my saying the obvious. Whatever. Regardless, I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end and would MUCH rather watch a movie like this, or Hard Candy, or other female based (or down and out individual – like I Don’t Feel At Home In this World Anymore) perspective film than a John Wick type movie. I AM STRONG AND I HAVE TESTOSTERONE – AND YOU KILLED MY DOG is all they say, to me anyway… and that isn’t an interesting conversation.