Film Review: Deliver Us From Evil Dir: Hong Won-chan

A thrilling, violent, and sometimes tender film, Deliver Us From Evil is a story of innocence; how it is lost and given away, and what we will do to protect it within those we love.

Starring: Hwang Jung-min, Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min, Choi Hee-seo, Park So-yi, Song Young-chang, Lee Seo-hwan

Deliver Us From Evil may have one of the greatest psychopaths of modern Asian crime cinema in Lee Jung-jae’s Ray, but that doesn’t stop the film from embracing intimate, tender moments of humanity throughout its 108-minute runtime.

We open in the home of a Koreeda, a Korean crime boss who is the last target of policeman-turned-assassin, Kim In-nam (Hwang Jung-min). After a stealthy and brutal execution at the hands of Kim, we flash forward through a series of expository scenes that set up the remainder of the film.

In Thailand, a Korean woman named Seo Young-joo drops her young daughter Yoo-min at school, where she is kidnapped by organ-harvesting gangsters who murder Young-joo. We learn that Kim and Seo were romantically involved, and Kim embarks on a rescue mission, littered with bodies and shell-casings as Koreeda’s flamboyant brother, Ray (Lee Jung-jae) follows murderously in his footsteps.

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These dual tension-building elements, the search for Young-joo growing increasingly dangerous and hopeless while avoiding Ray’s blood-soaked machete, creates an excellent, if completely over-the-top, final act of the film. The film draws obvious comparisons from Taken and The Man from Nowhere, but when its intensity and madness is dialled up, it blurs lines with Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive Trilogy and the epic fluid fight scenes of The Raid.

Deliver Us From Evil

Between the rain of bullets and impactful sped-up punches, Deliver Us From Evil examines a collection of characters driven either to protect innocence, or driven further from it by their actions. Later in the film, Kim is speaking out loud but very much to himself, detailing his failings as a human being and a father, trying to instil in another the threads of hope he has long let go of.

The contrast (and often lack of) between the brutal and horrifying underworld of the film and street-level normality and existence drives this home further; every trip to school, visit to a hotel, or cab ride has the potential to rob the characters of their remaining hope, a world where only the battle-worn can navigate and survive.

Deliver Us From Evil

Visually, the film is beautiful, ditching the dark and gloomy corridors and apartments of its cinematic comparison and filling the screen with glowing warmth and an acrid, dry heat to many of its visuals. The environment of the film seems as oppressive as many of its characters; the world around our antihero is pressuring and exhausting him at every moment, from both internal and external forces.

Written and directed by Hong Won-chan, whose previous credits include 2008’s The Chaser and 2015’s Office, Deliver Us From Evil is a welcome addition to the Korean Crime Thriller collection and a captivating evolution from the director’s previous work.

While on the surface, the film may seem just another ‘old warrior protects young girl’ cliche, the depth of the characters and the unconventional madness that weaves their story makes this a highly entertaining action-thriller, one which leaves the audience satisfied with the journey of its characters and their pursuit of what they believe to be righteous.

Oxford Lamoureaux

Deliver Us From Evil in Cinemas June 10th. 

We’re doing a ticket giveaway! Check out our Facebook page for details.