South Korea Always Goes Hard
A weary professional assassin, planning his retirement after one last job, ends up risking it all to save the daughter he’s never known from slavery. Describing Deliver Us From Evil’s basic plotline is to describe a subgenre most any action fan will be extremely familiar with. Man On Fire, Taken, Extraction, hell, even South Korea’s own highly influential (and superior) The Man From Nowhere all fit the template. Director Jong Won Chan’s take on the material also introduces some globetrotting and a psychotic antagonist into the mix. It’s a ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but it doesn’t quite stand out from the pack.
In-Nam (Jung-min Hwang) doesn’t have a whole lot to live for, but he’s hoping to find some tropical refuge to retire to as he closes out his career as a hitman. But when he discovers that an old flame has been killed and that a daughter he never knew existed has been taken in a human trafficking ring, he’ll stop at nothing to rescue her. Even if it means coming into contact with Ray The Butcher (Jung-jae Lee), a psychotic gangster who wants nothing more than to flay In-Nam alive for a past transgression.
With this being a badass Korean action-thriller, the Terminator-esque cat and mouse game between hopeful killer/savior and gangster/butcher ratchets up quite nicely into a crescendo of complete lunacy. Probably the best thing about Deliver Us From Evil is just how far the team is willing to take the violence and depravity to tell this story. In-Nam will have to go through hell to rescue his little daughter. And that action is captured exceptionally well. A really gnarly close-quarters fight between our hero and villain is quite well done and the final confrontation taking place in and around a speeding van is pretty breathtaking as well. It’s a solid film that I enjoyed watching and found bloody and entertaining.
That said… it seems clear that an emotional core was intended with this tale. It’s the classic scenario in this subgenre: the protagonist is believed to be beyond redemption, but the love of a child melts their hardened exterior and finds the capacity to love and to sacrifice. But with In-Nam not having really ever known his daughter, and with her screen time being so little, there’s not much chemistry or bond developed between the characters, or with the audience. I think Deliver Us From Evil wanted me to feel more deeply than I was able to. And as much as Jung-jae Lee just tears into his madman character (to strong effect), one gets the sense that they’ve seen psycho killers like this before. It’s simultaneously a flashy and standout character in the film itself, but also the type of ostentatious gangster one might easily see in a Takeshi Kitano gangster epic. It doesn’t feel fresh.
Deliver Us From Evil is a good-looking action thriller that globe trots from South Korea to Thailand, pits a couple of unstoppable badasses against one another, and dangles the fate of a sweet young girl in the balance. It’ll get your blood pumping, but it won’t show you much of anything you haven’t seen before. Executing well on a time-honored premise can get you pretty far with me, but I think I hoped for something a little more compelling or singular from the final product.
With just a couple of brief bonus features that do highlight the international nature of the production, but little else of note, this Blu-ray is pretty light on special features. But the good news is that the film does look quite fantastic and stylish so the visuals are not lacking. With other films in the same subgenre outshining this one, I’m not sure it’s one that’ll demand many rewatches, so an HD rental might do the curious just fine. But Korean cinema enthusiasts may find enough here to make it worth a purchase.
And I’m Out.
Deliver Us From Evil hits Digital/Blu-ray/DVD May 25th, 2021 from Well Go USA Entertainment