By Dave B.
Revenger (Netflix) follows a disgraced Interpol supercop hell-bent on revenge. After his family is murdered, Yool (Bruce Khan) assassinates members of the gang responsible for the killing of his wife and daughter. He’s caught and sent to a penal colony in the Indian Ocean where some of Asia’s worst criminals serve their life sentences. Fortunately for Yool, the head of the gang upon which he’s sworn revenge is incarcerated in the tropical prison. Unfortunately, the gang leader has recruited a new group of deadly followers. If Yool wants his revenge, he’ll have to fight his way through scores of enforcers to face the man who destroyed his life.
Revenger is a wildly inconsistent action film in nearly every way. On the negative side, the acting is fairly poor, there’s very little in the way of plot, and the action choreography isn’t consistently good. The movie also makes several attempts at humor that almost always fall flat (that may be in part just differences in cultural preference, however). There’s also a lot of downtime in the movie. Although these sequences of endless dialogue do modestly help with character development, they break the pacing of the movie and its 101 minute runtime feels long. Attempting character development without having a real plot is an odd choice and it isn’t executed well in this film.
On the positive side, when the action sequences are good, they’re VERY good: brutal, bone-crunching, and bloody in a way that occasionally mesmerizes. And at times, Revenger is much more emotionally impactful than I expected it to be. There are a couple of parts that genuinely made me sad. The camerawork is good, the setting is beautiful, and the movie makes some interesting creative choices such as having the primarily Korean-language film peppered with English and having a fairly diverse group of characters from around Asia.
The key to enjoying Revenger is managing your expectations. As far as overall quality, it’s a few steps below Korean classics like The Villainess. And it’s perhaps even a half-step below newer Netflix offerings like Illang: The Wolf Brigade as far as story and plot. But the high points of Revenger’s action sequences make up for a lot of its flaws. So if you’re in the mood to watch some bad guys get their asses kicked and you’re looking for just a touch of emotional engagement, this movie is a pretty good choice for you. If you want a complex story with engaging characters to go along with your action, you may want to give Revenger a pass. I’m not recommending this movie for general audiences, but it won’t surprise me at all if a lot of hardcore action fans really enjoy this movie.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.