Deliver Us From Evil is a South Korean action movie released on 2020, which may bring confusion with the Hollywood horror movie from 2014, due to the identical title. This movie manifests superb sequences of actions, pile of tensions, along with fresh humors and delicacy.
This Hong Won-chan directed movie, delivers story of Kim In-nam, a former black operation agent who’s shockingly find himself closely related to a staggering case of abduction in Thailand. The now mercenary figure flies to Thailand immediately and keeps up with the case by assistance of Yui, an expat. It throws a revenge effort in the plot when In-nam is targeted by a Japan guy who claims he has killed his brother.
Deliver Us From Evil is dubbed as the most recent example of South Korean cinema phenomenon. It is starred by respectable actor Hwang Jung-min. Although it cannot be said that the movie serves some originality by integrating Thailand as its setting place and the trans character depiction, it’s still presents a market friendly entertaining craft with a bit of philosophical commotion.
The Movie Synopsis
As mentioned briefly in prior, Deliver Us From Evil follows story of Kim In-nam (played by Hwang Jung-min) who was a former intelligence agent that turned into hitman. He has to save his daughter from the clasp of Thai gangster and fight off with yakuza assassin at the same time.
In the beginning of movie, Kim In-nam murders Koreeda, a yakuza boss with Korean blood inheritance, who’s supposed to be his final hit. However, it gets complicated when his daughter Kim Yoo-min (played by Park So-yi) was dropped in Thailand school by Seo Young-joo (played by Choi Hee-seo), but instead was kidnapped by Thai gangster – an event that led up to the murder of Young-joo.
The unconnected strings come together when In-nam is notified about the news of Young-joo’s death by Korean authorities. Turns out Kim In-nam and Seo Young-joo were used to be related romantically when he served as South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) back then. The circumstances forced Kim to be separated with Seo Young-joo and his daughter, whom he never learned and acknowledged before, as he becomes hitman and goes for hiding.
Kim decides to travel to Thailand, in order to retaliate the murder of Young-joo and to rescue the newfound child. The journey of hunting down the criminals bring him altogether to meet with Yui (played by Park Jung-min), a transgender woman that assists him to locate the landscape and translate the foreign language. The Deliver Us From Evil’s twist presents when Ray (played by Lee Jung-jae), flies to Thailand to find Kim In-nam and avenge Koreeda’s death as his brother.
The Characters and Castings
The main character of Deliver Us From Evil is played by Hwang Jung-min, who’s known for his work in The Battleship Island (2017) and Veteran (2015). The second lead character is acted by Lee Jung-jae, whom you may find familiar for his roles in Assassination (2015) and The Thieves (2012). Moreover, it is also supported by Choi Hee-seo, a local award-winning actress who previously starred in drama Anarchist From The Colony (2017) and Park Jung-min who plays in drama Tazza: One Eyed Jack (2007).
Both of the main characters collaborated before in the popular saga about gangster, New World (2013) and this movie will be their second reunion since then, after appeared together in Svaha: The Sixth Finger (2019).
Here is the character and cast list of Deliver Us From Evil:
- Kim In-nam, by Hwang Jung-min
A former intelligence agent turned hitman who’s supposed to complete his final work, before he is related to murder and kidnap cases in Thailand.
- Ray, by Lee Jung-jae
Koreeda’s brother, a man who has been assassinated by Kim In-nam and currently seeking to give vengeance to Kim In-nam.
- Yui (Yooyi), by Park Jung-min
A transgender woman who serves as translator and guide for Kim In-nam in Bangkok.
- Seo Young-joo, played by Choi Hee-seo
- Yoo-min, played by Park So-yi
- Kim Chun-sung, played by Song Young-chang
- Koreeda, played by Kōsuke Toyohara
Having the combination of strong key castings, constant chaos, and brutal depiction of human life have brought Deliver Us From Evil to grab the top of box office rankings in its origin country. Based on the records gathered by Korean Film Council (KOFIC), the movie has been on top of South Korean’s box office for 20 days straights.
It is viewed by more than 4 million cinema-goers on late summer of 2020, surprisingly outperformed the predicted hit Peninsula as the winner of summer season. Apparently, according to the data of Korean Film Commission, it is the first movie to do so after The Man Standing Next, which was released during January 2020. On its first day release, it attracted more than 30,000 cinema viewers, an excellent number compared to ‘Okay! Madam’, a comedy-action movie that pulled over 15,000 viewers and ‘Crayon Shin-chan: Honeymoon Hurricane ― The Lost Hiroshi’, anime movie from Japan that drawn 5,780 viewers.
This crime-thriller big-budget film has turned into hit during the pandemic. The movie accumulated around $13.4 million of gross profit nationwide. It is set to be released in United States on March 2021.
Critically, Deliver Us From Evil is successful enough to be honored by 41st Blue Dragon Film Awards with nine nominations in total from eight different categories. These category nominations are including best director, best actor, best cinematography and lighting, and best editing. The film received best cinematography and best art direction from Buil Film Awards 2020.
The Movie Reviews
If you walk blindly into Deliver Us From Evil, you may feel satisfied by its exceptional choice of setting and effort for transgender representation – despite it is being a quite standard action with high commercial success. It is decent at best, in terms of character development and fights actions that thrive in sub-genre of ‘father protecting his daughter’.
The duo of Hwang Jung-min and Lee Jung-jae serves convincing acts, despite having to work in various movies separately. However, it is rather difficult to say the same about supporting cast, such as Park Jung-min who gets the role as transsexual immigrant worker in Thailand from Korea. The performance could be said as committed and spirited, but the writing of this character itself leaves so much room to be developed.
The production values of Deliver Us From Evil is outstanding, especially how the lucid locations are portrayed by cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo and reverberating movie score by Mowg. Hong Kyung-pyo has worked with Bong Joon-ho – the director of commercially and critically acclaimed masterpiece Parasite (2019). He uses lighting naturally and has successfully set distinct tones and moods between the three countries (South Korea, Japan, and Thailand). Even untrained cinematic eyes can see how the camera shifts differently from the Japan setting with calmer shots to the Bangkok alleys setting with fluid camerawork.
That being said, there are some things that the film missed. For instance, the emotional punch that it tries to put into the movie feels too late. Overall, it is still an enjoyable, straightforward, and cool action film that should be taken as it is, in order to carter the feels into the targeted audience.
Movies Similar to Deliver Us From Evil
Somehow, the backdrop of a country as foreign as Thailand to South Korea in Deliver Us From Evil breathes a fresh air into the world of South Korean action movies, which in general produced in less budget than the Hollywood counterparts, thus doesn’t shoot overseas too often. The story presents a vibe of Western, with a setting that supposedly chaotic and filled with criminal.
In terms of concept, however, it brings nothing new to the table. It feels like a mix between South Korea’s The Man from Nowhere (2010), the franchise movies Taken (2008) and the classic Leon (1994), in which a former black operation agent is going to a mission to save their family member or beloved ones. There are some strong déjà vu senses from dialogues and scenes from renowned thriller such as Korea’s New World (2013) and Hollywood’s No Country for Old Men (2007). To simply speak, the concept is rather worn out at this point.
However, in contrast of The Man from Nowhere which acquires darker visual palette and more rainy days, this movie utilizes warmer tones and vibrant daylight settings more. Another different is that the trauma of protagonist isn’t portrayed as visibly here, and the brutality is counterbalanced by supporting characters such as Yui. It is an aspect that cannot be found in The Man from Nowhere.
Deliver Us From Evil seems to be set to bring more humanistic and brighter tone, in order to appeal to wider audience. On the other side, this decision makes the film much less introspective than The Man from Nowhere or similar Korean movies in the same genre. Often, what makes actions movies become a classic is the evocative philosophical meaning it echoes, which unfortunately had seen less in this craft of Hong Won-chan. In spite of the flaws, it still offers an entertaining watch and should be sufficient if you’re looking for solid action movie.