In the riveting realm of South Korean action thrillers, where suspense, revenge, and explosive storytelling meet, “Ballerina” takes centre stage.
Directed by Lee Chung-hyun, this 2023 South Korean action thriller stars Jeon Jong-seo, Kim Ji-hoon, and Park Yu-rim, delivering an unforgettable cinematic experience.
The film unravels the tale of Jang Ok-ju, portrayed by Jeon Jong-seo, a former bodyguard on a mission to avenge her best friend, Choi Min-hee, played by Park Yu-rim.
Min-hee fell victim to a sex trafficker named Choi Pro, portrayed by Kim Ji-hoon. Ok-ju’s journey to justice catapults us into a relentless pursuit, filled with action, intrigue, and a thirst for retribution.
The film’s journey from concept to reality began in April 2022 when Netflix announced the cast and crew. Gray, known for his music composition, was enlisted to create the film’s score. The production timeline, from principal photography in June 2022 to its October wrap-up, showcases the commitment of the team to bringing this story to life.
“Ballerina” held its premiere at the 28th Busan International Film Festival, creating a buzz and big anticipation for its global Netflix release on October 6, 2023.
A Tale of Retribution
As we accompany Jang Ok-ju on her quest, we witness high-octane battles, twists, and a partnership with a high school student seeking escape from the traffickers.
The film’s suspenseful narrative weaves a story of survival, determination, and a yearning for retribution that captivates from start to finish.
One of the film’s standout attributes lies in its captivating visual and musical choices. Gray’s music score expertly amplifies the tension, while the neon-infused visuals contribute a distinct yet familiar aesthetic quality that distinguishes “Ballerina”.
The action sequences are undeniably spectacular, offering a testament to director Lee Chung-hyun’s skill in crafting heart-pounding set pieces that leave the audience in sheer amazement.
Yet, despite the film’s remarkable choreography and well-executed fight scenes, I found it difficult to enjoy the amount of shaky camera work that features in the film.
Furthermore, as the narrative reaches its climax, a lingering feeling arises that additional action sequences could’ve further enriched the overall experience. An example that pops into my mind is the elevator scene, in which the protagonist confronts three adversaries.
Regrettably, the use of rapid cuts and fleeting flashes of light in this sequence missed an opportunity to deliver a more thoroughly exhilarating action sequence in my opinion. It’s a scene where I would love to have seen more.
The choreography in the action sequences was undeniably impressive and exhibited a remarkable level of creativity. In fact, it served as an enticing indicator of the film’s quality, leaving me almost yearning for additional action scenes.
The choreography, marked by its ingenuity, injected a sense of delight into the film. It was evident that great care and thought had gone into its execution, making each action sequence an enjoyable and meticulously crafted experience.
Visual and Auditory Brilliance
“Ballerina” isn’t just an action thriller; it’s an experience that immerses viewers in a world of danger, courage, and ultimate justice.
Jeon Jong-seo’s performance as Jang Ok-ju, a woman on a relentless mission, drives the narrative with intensity and purpose. Her portrayal adds depth to a character determined to right the wrongs and confront the many villains of the story.
Also, despite featuring a relatively young team, including a debutant music director, the ensemble of actors managed to deliver a commendable performance. Their collective efforts culminated in the creation of a distinctive narrative that remains refreshingly straightforward in its storytelling.
Also, the film’s cinematography demonstrates a high degree of creativity, displaying an innovative perspective that adds depth to the overall cinematic experience.
The final scene left a lasting impression on me, and I found it to be a fitting conclusion to the film. The underwater imagery, particularly the Ballerina gracefully floating in a ballet pose beneath the water, added a touch of exquisite beauty to the film’s conclusion.
As “Ballerina” delves into the themes of vengeance, justice, and the unwavering human spirit, it beckons viewers to become fully absorbed in a captivating narrative that is visually breathtaking.
The film’s use of colours, polished cinematography, and choreography is undeniably a spectacle that demands your attention and should not be missed.
Even with the shaky cameras and missed opportunities for more great action scenes, I think this movie does brilliantly well in portraying amazing fight scenes that were entertaining, at times amusing, and overall just beautiful to watch.
- “I believe that the earth belongs to the fish. And us humans are just living in their world.” – Choi Minhee
- “I’m gonna come back as a fish in my next life.” – Choi Minhee
- “Since the day I ran into you, I realized that life could be fun. You helped me to come alive.” – Jang Ok Ju
- Jeon Jong performed her own stunts and trained martial arts extensively in preparation for the fight scenes.
- The music director GRAY made his debut on this film.
- In a bold and experimental move, the film’s climax scene featured lead actress Jun Jong-seo delivering a captivating rap performance, effectively conveying her character Okju’s deep emotions within the context of the scene.