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The Villainess, Ak-Nyeo, 악녀, 惡女, Kim Ok-bin, Shin Ha-kyun, Sung Joon, Kim Seo-hyung, Jo Eun-ji, Lee Seung-joo, Son Min-ji, Kim Yeon-woo Jung Hae-kyun, Park Chul-min,

The Villainess(aka Ak-Nyeo, 악녀, 惡女). an elite assassin goes on a rampage to win back her freedom. This opens with one of the most intense and enjoyable rip-roaring action sequences in recent memory, where no fewer than 50 henchmen are dispatched in a 6-minute point-of-view frenzy of shooting / stabbing / and kick-punching – think of the Oldboy‘s infamous corridor scene, but from Hardcore Henry’s perspective! The film also ends with an equally-impressive action finale involving a bus and a lot of great stuntwork / choreography. It’s peppered throughout with shorter bursts of ultra-violent, and undeniably ‘cool’ blood-spurting over-the-top moments. As you’ve probably guessed, the action scenes are second-to-none… however, they only total around a quarter of the 120 minute runtime; which is a shame as the film if being sold as purely an action film in the same vein as The Raid (the UK poster namechecks Kill Bill, Nikita, John Wick, Hardcore Henry, and Hong Kong Era John Woo!!!). The problem with these comparisons are that – as an overall film – The VIllainess nowhere near as strong as those classics. It’s also lacking in originality in that you can see where shots / scenes / characters have been lifted wholesale from the aforementioned movies; for example, the lead’s backstory is identical to Oren Ishii’s of Kill Bill. The story jumps around the timeline in a manner that is unnecessarily confusing until the final act, where it all kinda (?) fits together. Despite being built from bits and pieces of other action flicks, the action scenes in The Villainess are still inventive, great fun to watch and the spectacle (+ “how did they do that!?” factor) of these alone should entice genre aficionados. It makes it all the more frustrating that these scenes are lost in a flabby, overlong, underwhelming, and melodramatic plot – which could have done with losing around 30 minutes to make it a tighter and more focused / straight-forward action film.

Score: 6.5/10

The Villainess, Ak-Nyeo, 악녀, 惡女, Kim Ok-bin, Shin Ha-kyun, Sung Joon, Kim Seo-hyung, Jo Eun-ji, Lee Seung-joo, Son Min-ji, Kim Yeon-woo Jung Hae-kyun, Park Chul-min,

Sunshine Cleaning: to ensure her son can get a good schooling, a struggling mum enters the lucrative, but stomach-turning, crime-scene cleanup business. The best part of this is that it’s fairly funny and upbeat considering the grim subject matter; the characters aid this most, other than the most annoying kid in history – If that was my spawn I’d have beaten him into shape by that age. Emily blunt looks great as an angsty goth, nails the accent and steals the show for me. Amy Adams was solid too – but was clearly during her ‘must have a scene in my underwear’ phase. Chloe form 24 once again plays her bread and butter TOTAL WEIRDO role – needs to diversify! The direction and story are both simple and effective, although it goes a little off-chorus in the final third, but enough groundwork was put in at the start to give this a nice indie sleeper-hit feel to it. Sunshine Cleaning cleverly walks the line between funny and serious, and successfully avoids become farcical or gloomy.

Score: 6/10

1911: Anniversary film about the revolution that ended 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. There’s a whole lot of revolutioning rolled into the opening 30 minutes, and the story doesn’t rest after that – entire week-long battles are boiled down to a minute of slow-mo and a paragraph summary of events. Even the indoor political scenes have frantic jump-cuts (like individual words have been removed) and crazy-fast dialogue. The overall tone of the movie feels like retrospective propaganda – definitely a rose-tinted version of history told by the winners, about their noble martyrs. Several westerners pop up at various points, and are portrayed as 1-dimensional cold fat-cats, only interested in money. On the up, it’s stunningly shot, every frame looks picturesque. Sets, costumes, detail all outstanding, especially in the large-scale set-pieces. Jackie Chan gets to administer a token ass kicking; more generally, he does well with his character, despite sharing screen time with scores of important characters that are continually introduced up to the last reel. With several TV series of the same story warranting 60 x 45 min, and 41x 45 minute episodes, this film feels like you’re flipping through a 1,000 page history book looking only at the pictures and captions – ignoring the main text. Unfortunately, being Chan‘s 100th movie is the most significant thing about 1911, and most disappointingly, there’s only a glimpse of the entertaining ass-kicking and stunts that made him a global star. The scope is just far, far too big to pull off in a conventional movie format.

Score: 4.5/10

NOTE: UK DVD is 95 minutes long, not international 125 minute cut