Brussels International Festival of Fantasy 2019
Lee Jun-hyuk, Park Se-wan, Lee Si-young
After serving a long prison sentence, Inae (Lee Si-young) returns home to her younger sister Eunhye (Park Se-wan), who greets him with overwhelming enthusiasm. For Inae, a former martial arts champion, her little sister is the most precious thing in the world, and because Eunhye has an intellectual disability and so is extremely vulnerable, Inae always sworn to protect her. However, the touching reunions won’t last long. The next day, Eunhye vanishes. Alerting her school and the police, Inae is confronted with total indifference, and realizes that she will have to take things into her own hands. By way of rough, tough interrogation, Inae discovers that a group of schoolgirls who bullied her sister have forced her into an awful situation involving petty criminals, pawnbrokers, pimps and more. Desperate to rescue her sister, her rage growing exponentially, Inae will show little mercy to Eunhye’s abusers.
South Korean cinema has certainly cornered the market in visceral vengeance thrillers loaded with action. Filmmaker Lim Kyoung-tack (KILLER TOONS) plants NO MERCY firmly in this tradition, springing loose a gripping thriller that never skimps on convincing violence. The majority of the clashes take place in constricted spaces (even inside a car!), between antagonists who’ll use anything they can get their hands on to kill or survive. At the top of the bill, the excellent Lee Si-young delivers a performance miles away from her charming turn in HOW TO USE GUYS WITH SECRET TIPS, but no less bang-on. Elegant and endearing despite the bone-crunching brutality she dishes out, Li’s Inae is an action-movie heroine in the same class as THE VILLAINESS. NO MERCY delivers a gut-punch with the provocative themes it addresses, but that only makes Inae's harsh justice that much more sweet. – Translation: Rupert Bottenberg
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