Young South Korean director Jung Byung-Gil first rose to fame with Confession of Murder in 2012, winning him the Best New Director award at South Korea's Grand Bell Awards. For his first appearance in Cannes, he brings us Ak-Nyeo (The Villainess), a thriller that overthrows the rules of action films and will be screened Out of Competition as part of the Midnight Screenings.
Ak-Nyeo (The Villainess) follows merciless, Chinese-trained assassin Sook-hee, who goes into exile in South Korea after having been given a second chance as a mole. But when two men arrive on the scene, the secrets of her past come to light.
This is Jung Byung-Gil's first female protagonist, a woman who has grown up in a dark and dangerous world, evolving into an unusual heroine in the female action movie genre. The director called on the talents of Kim Ok-vin to bring his character to life, an actor renowned for her enigmatic allure who reveals an extra string to her bow by taking on the starring role in this action film.
Ak-Nyeo's heroine takes shape in a series of bold scenes from a director who set himself the challenge of producing feats never yet seen in the action genre. To do so, the South Korean director drew on the talents of his former stuntman, Kwon Gui-duck, his director of cinematography, Park Jung-hun, and Kim Ok-vin, who insisted on performing most of her scenes herself, without the help of a double.
A natural continuation of serial killer thriller Confession of Murder, Ak-Nyeo succeeds in breathing new life into the Korean action film genre.