KILL BOKSOON (2023) – Korean Action Thriller Stylish but Stale

KILL BOKSOON (2023) is a new action thriller from South Korea about a single mom who also happens to be an assassin.

Premiering on Netflix this weekend, KILL BOKSOON tells the story of Gil Bok-soon (Jeon Do-yeon), a single mom who’s finding that raising a teenage daughter on her own is more challenging than killing people. The movie opens with a very stylish sequence on a bridge where Gil engages with a ninja, at first granting the man’s request that they fight to the death, but when she realizes she can’t defeat him, she simply shoots him dead. Gil always gets the job done.

She works for a company with very strict rules regarding assassinations, but she is able to push the boundaries because the man who runs the company has long admired her. When she’s not assassinating people, she’s trying to raise her teen daughter, who is giving her all she can handle and then some. But the main plot of this one is mostly concerned with the assassination firm for which Gil works, and when Gil goes too far and breaks a major rule, she finds herself at odds with her employers and has to fight for her life when the company decides she is no longer an asset.

KILL BOKSOON was written and directed by Sung-hyun Byun. The script maintains a very serious tone throughout and doesn’t go the route of high camp, which I found surprising because the movie opens with a rather campy fight sequence between Gil and the ninja. But KILL BOKSOON is not BULLET TRAIN (2022), the Brad Pitt actioner in which the assassins in that film seemed to be having more fun than kids at Disneyland. I wasn’t the biggest fan of BULLET TRAIN, so at first, I was grateful for the serious demeanor in KILL BOKSOON, but as the movie went on, and at two hours and seventeen minutes, it does go on, the film becomes weighed down by its seriousness.

Honestly, the whole plot about the assassination company I found boring and very superficial. I didn’t care about their rules or how they trained young assassins. A huge chunk of the movie is about these things. Gil Bok-soon is a really interesting character, and while the movie does focus on her, somehow, she still doesn’t have enough to do. The main plot doesn’t really give her an exciting conflict.

Jeon Do-yeon is terrific as Gil Bok-soon, and she’s equally at home playing the exhausted single mom and the bad-ass never-loses hired killer. She’s the best part of KILL BOKSOON, although the rest of the cast is also very good.

Director Sung-hyun Byun handles the many action sequences with precision. The fight choreography is impressive, but on the other hand, there’s nothing in this movie’s action sequences that we haven’t seen before. The opening fight scene may have been my favorite. At one point in this sequence, Byun shoots the action through the windows of a passing train for a neat effect.

But the screenplay was merely meh. While the acting is solid, the characters other than Gil and her daughter, are all rather dull and forgettable. There isn’t much of a plot, and sadly, after creating a cool character like Gil Bok-soon, Byun forgot to include a credible threat for her to face. The main threat, which turns out to be her boss, wasn’t exciting, and events leading up to the film’s conclusion simply weren’t that suspenseful.

I enjoyed the action scenes in KILL BOKSOON, and I really enjoyed Jeon Do-yeon’s performance as Gil, but the movie as a whole with its stale stoic plot about an assassination firm with rules and an honor code did very little for me.

As a result, I give KILL BOKSOON two stars.



Four stars – Perfect, Top of the line

Three and a half stars- Excellent

Three stars – Very Good

Two and a half stars – Good

Two Stars – Fair

One and a half stars – Pretty Weak

One star- Poor

Zero stars – Awful


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