Beginning with the superlative 'The Villainess' in 2017, female protagonists have been featuring more frequently in big-budget South Korean action films. Check out 'A Special Lady', 'The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion' and 'The Witch: Part 2. The Other One' – these movies kick all kinds of arse. The latest film to redefine what it means to be a bone-breaking bad-arse in modern day Korea is Park Dae-min's 'Special Delivery'.
Eun-ha (Kim Eui-sung, 'Rampant'). Eun-ha guarantees delivery (of items and people) and, after showcasing her evasive driving skills in the film's opening sequence, it's not hard to work out why that is no idle boast.
'SPECIAL DELIVERY' TRAILER
Meanwhile, Kim Du-Sik (Yeon Woo-Jin) is a former baseball player who lifts the lid on an illegal sports gambling racket and goes on the run with his young son Seo-won (Jung Hyun-jun, 'Parasite'). Even more problematically, he has also stolen a key fob that unlocks a $30 million bank account of mobster money. He has hired Eun-ha to spirit them out of the city, but she soon finds herself minus her client, with only Seo-won and the key fob in her car, and murderous cop Jo Kyung-Pil (Song Sae-Byeok, 'Sector 7') in pursuit.
Experienced movie-goers will know that, in the course of this story, the stony heart of our mercenary hero will be melted by this snot-nosed yet adorable urchin. As she unthaws, more of her character will be revealed. Of course, at the end of the citywide manhunt, said hero will engage in a brutal hand-to-hand struggle with the sinister baddie dogging their tracks.
While 'Special Delivery' is firmly rooted in formula, it does offer some slick driving and action sequences, as well as a chance to see So-dam Park in stoic action hero mode.
While 'Special Delivery' is firmly rooted in formula, it does offer some slick driving and action sequences, as well as a chance to see So-dam Park in stoic action hero mode. Unfortunately, the film's two main inspirations - Nicolas Winding Refn's minimalist thriller 'Drive' and Corey Yuen's popcorn actioner 'The Transporter' - create a weird tonal mish-mash. While there is lots of kinetic action and comedic characters, they are uncomfortably paired with some stabby violence and sadistic torture scenes, one of which brings to mind the Christopher Walken/Dennis Hopper scene from Tony Scott's 'True Romance'.
Look, this movie has obligatory high-speed chases, furniture-breaking brawls against multiple thugs, and a protracted gun battle in a warehouse – and all of these things are pleasurable in their rote way (it never devolves into tedium, like 'Baby Driver'). For a slice of action that hits all of its marks, 'Special Delivery' is ultimately satisfying.