The Villainess opens with one of the most exciting, intense action sequences I have ever seen. Entirely from the protagonists point of view, you rush through a multi story building on a killing spree – seeing what she sees. I guess they mounted a camera to the stunt double’s head but geesh is it intense! Like a live action video game – with guns and blades and blood splatter everywhere. And, honestly, as deeply unrealistic as a video game… but why knit pick? Who cares if the bad guys cue up to fight her? Who cares if randomly none of them have guns when she’s brandishing a knives? It’s so awesome – just enjoy it. Enjoy it for the fun, furious murder ballad it is.
The Villainess is one of those rare movies where I was pretty sure I was going to love it before I even started watching it. Why? Because it’s loosely based on one of my favorite stories of all time: La Femme Nikita! It all started with French film Nikita by Luc Besson, which was excellent. America remade it, with the film The Point of No Return, which was also excellent. The Canadians did us all a favor and created an unbelievably sexy, sinister television series out of it – called La Femme Nikita. Oh Peta Wilson… you will forever be my first serious girl-crush. America followed suit, again, and made their own tv show several years later called Nikita… which I didn’t watch, for some reason, probably out of loyalty to Peta Wilson… but I hear it was pretty good too.
The premise is simple. A young criminal girl is caught up in the seedy underworld and ends up caught by the police. She will surely be sentenced to life in prison or death for her transgressions. A shady government organization sees potential in her and offers her an option – work for us and live… or serve out your sentence. She gets a makeover, learns to pass as a classy lady, and the next thing you know she’s off on assassination assignments and living under an assumed identity. In all stories, her handler is obsessed with her. There’s betrayal and secrets and amazing action sequences. And that’s Nikita.
The Villainess is a new Nikita. And she’s a worthy addition to the cannon.
This version is distinctively Korean. The violence is amped. The love triangle is dark and tragic. The is more confusion. More isolation. And a different pace. It’s still sexy as can be, but even more sinister than its predecessors. And strangely, even more sweet.
Her past is dark but they take care to make us deeply sympathetic to her plight. We are given glimpses into her childhood, into the horrors of her youth, and introduced to the man who guided her along in the darkness.
They gave her a cool career in acting. They gave her female friends. They introduced a handler with a heart of gold. The inclusion of Nikita’s child is a unique spin that only adds to the emotional toll of the storyline. They changed quite a bit in this version, actually.
But they stuck to the basics. A beautiful girl with a deadly agenda.
It was awesome. I admit to being bias. As I said, I love the story – and its various incantations. So I was already a fan.
And a fan I remain. Welcome to the fold, Villainess. You’re a worthy Nikita.
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