CAST: Jeon Jong Seo, Kim Ji Hoon, Park Yu-rim

DIRECTOR: Lee Chung Hyun

Ok-ju is a highly skilled private security contractor who has only one friend in the world, Min-hee, the titular dancer in the film. Ok-ju discovers that her kind and bubbly companion has committed suicide when she visits one night. Min-hee discovers a letter urging Ok-ju to avenge her tormentor on her bed.


Our battle-hardened bodyguard is determined to find out why her friend killed herself and punish those responsible mercilessly. Her investigation reveals that Min-hee was coerced into slavery by a drug and human trafficking ring. She targets mid-level boss Choi Pro (Kim Ji-hoon), who filmed himself date raping Min-hee and threatened to leak the video unless she complied with his demands.

The movie is an Occam’s razor that leads straight to vengeance’s satisfaction and violence’s undiluted adrenaline rush. However, Ok-ju’s lack of character development and backstory indicates a lack of emotional investment on the audience’s part. While the script utilizes flashbacks to establish Ok-ju and Min-hee’s friendship, the memories of them sharing a birthday cake or strolling on a beach are so thin that they seem perfunctory rather than powerful.

Ballerina (2023) - IMDb

Thank goodness, the villains of the film make up for it, giving us plenty of reasons to root for her.

Action is Ballerina’s forte. There is a gnarly quality to Lee Chung-hyun’s direction as well as a gracefulness. With fluid movement and off-kilter angles, his camera follows the bloodshed with intense visceral effect, like Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade.

Revenge film 'Ballerina' premieres October on Netflix | ABS-CBN News

While the film’s seedy and neon-drenched visuals are reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn’s noir-thrillers, especially Only God Forgives. Lee’s influences are obvious, but he transforms them into his own brand of martial arts madness and turbo-charged carnage. Likewise, the practical stuntwork is great, making every cut, blow, and gunshot feel real.

Streams on Netflix

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