South Korean filmmaker Jung Byung-gil employed a three-pronged plan when it came time to tackle the massive action of his Cannes offering, “The Villainess.” In an inventive and honestly amusing section of the midnight actioner’s official press package, Jung details his plan for creating “never before seen action sequences.”
And if our new clip from the feature is to be believed, it kind of worked.
Per the film’s official synopsis, “From an early age, Sook-hee has received trainings to become an assassin. But once she’s abandoned by her organization, she was recruited by the Korean Intelligence Agency to become a sleeper cell under a fake identity. She was to live a normal life and carry out missions for 10 years, and only then she could truly become free. But when her newest target turns out to be someone she once loved, she is conflicted between her mission and heart.”
First up: “Peerless, Referenceless Action.” No small feat, and the package credits Jung, along with stunt colleague Kwon Gui-duck and director of photography Park Jung-hun for going beyond what is known. To wit, “They all wanted to challenge themselves to something new rather than starting off by looking at existing action sequences.”
Next step? “Action That Is Never Boring.” To accomplish this lofty goal, Jung and his team shunned one-on-one fights, tasking their eponymous villainess with fighting at least two other people at a time, and sometimes more than a dozen. Ouch.
The final step is likely the most boundary-breaking: “Genderless, Powerful Action.”
“The Villainess” centers on a supremely ass-kicking assassin-turned-special-agent, and putting the focus on a female lead appears to have inspired Jung to new heights. As the package explains, “Of the 70 total shoot days, 63 days contained action shoots that required [star Kim Ok-vin] to use all her physical strength, but for most of the main action sequences, she did not use a stunt double and performed grueling action set pieces herself.”
All that, and stiletto heel guns? Sold.
“The Villainess” will premiere out of competition at Cannes later this week. Check out our exclusive clip below.