"You can't go! Kill me before you leave! You got paid, so do your job! What's the problem? You fancy me or something?"

Hyun (Shin Hyeon-joon) is an antisocial killer for hire - a loner, living with his alcoholic mother - who is called upon to kill a sleeping man in his bed. When he arrives at the supposed target's home to carry out the job, he is surprised to find a noticeable outline of a pair of breasts below the bed sheets. On pulling back the covers, he comes face to face with a girl, Jin-young (Kang Hye-jeong), alone in the bed and, naturally assuming that a mistake has been made somewhere along the line, hurriedly attempts to make his escape. However, before he can, Jin-young demands that he finish the job he's been paid to do, and kill her before he leaves...



Hard as it may be to believe from the above synopsis, Kill Me is actually a romantic comedy, and while the concept of a hardened hitman gradually falling in love with his intended target is certainly nothing new (in virtually any culture) director Yang Jong-hyeon, who also wrote the screenplay, brings a freshness to the idea by turning it completely on its head - Hyun is totally unwilling to carry out the killing, while Jin-young is suicidal and desperate to die. Added into the mix are copious elements of both thriller and heartfelt drama and, combined with the fact that Kill Me features some of the oddest, most eccentric (and incredibly likeable) characters seen in recent years, these, in one fell swoop, allow the film to successfully step away from predictability to become something much more original and memorable:



Hyun is a man of few words, and fewer friends, who initially appears to often be deep in thought. However, it soon becomes clear that there is, in reality, very little going on in his mind the majority of the time (as a psychic told his mother many years ago), other than his next job and ensuring his mother (who, more often than not, is drunk, throwing up, or both) is taken care of to the best of his ability. When he meets Jin-young, his utter disbelief of almost everything she does, claims to want and, most of all, of her suicidal tendencies, forces him to begin to try understand this nutty lady, and the only way he can do that is... to think.
Once the cogs in his head begin to turn, he finds them impossible to stop and thus he begins to question his lack of friends, the absence of love in his life and even begins to feel distaste for his chosen line of work, and, all the while, thoughts of Jin-young invade his mind on an increasingly frequent basis.

By contrast, Jin-young is much more used to dealing with people, but not necessarily any more adept at it. Her desire to die is related to her being dumped by her boyfriend (although it is later revealed that the full reason is much more involved - "I want to die because of love, not heartbreak"), but the ending of her relationship is only the tip of the iceberg where destruction in her life is concerned.
You see, Jin-young is an astoundingly clumsy lady: She trips up a lot, she collides with both people and inanimate objects on a regular basis and, if something can be broken, you can almost rest assured that Jin-young will break it, despite her best efforts not to. In fact, the only thing which she consistently fails to destroy is the one thing that she actually wants to end - her own life - and hence she hires Hyun (through the agency he works for) to do the job for her.
Regardless of what Hyun or Jin-young want (or think they want) they are clearly meant for each other and the question quickly becomes whether or not fate will allow them both to live long enough to be together.

The humour in Kill Me is regularly laugh-out-loud funny. Beautifully understated and played utterly straight-faced throughout, it never fails to hit the mark and often begs repeated viewings, especially in the case of Jin-young (as an example: A small scene involving a glass of water being thrown is, quite simply, one of the best sight gags in the whole film, and that is just one of many memorably funny moments).
The other genre elements of thriller, lovelorn angst and moving drama meld with the comedy seamlessly and ultimately produce a finished product which is not done justice by categorisation.
Cinematically, Kill Me is a polished affair and has the feeling of a truly big budget production. Scene construction is impeccable and, though CGI is used in several places it always appears just as natural as the sequences which are filmed normally.
The musical score lifts the level of proceedings yet further and separate moods (of playfulness, thrills and heartbreak) are expertly created to perfectly compliment the ongoing drama from the start of the film to the very last frame.




The success of a film such as this which places such an emphasis on the personalities of the various, utterly oddball, characters is, of course, dependent on the performances of the cast, and it must be said that it would be hard to imagine any other ensemble cast doing as good a job.
Kang Hye-jeong, as Jin-young, owns every frame in which she appears, hits every comedic mark with perfection and is able to move between dry humour, slapstick comedy and serious drama effortlessly - often in the blink of an eye.
Shin Hyeon-joon has an equally involved (albeit less vocal) role as Hyun and, here too, we see a performance that would be almost impossible to criticise.
Kim Hye-ok, as Hyun's mother, has a far smaller role to play, but her believability as a slightly unhinged, but always well meaning, alcoholic is, at the same time, genuinely funny and heartwarming.


While the concept of a hardened hitman gradually falling in love with his intended target is certainly nothing new, director Yang Jong-hyeon brings a freshness to the idea by turning it completely (and literally) on its head, allowing the film to successfully step away from predictability to become something much more original and memorable.


Shin Hyeon-joon, Kang Hye-jeong, Kim Hye-ok, Park Cheol-min,


Yang Jong-hyeon


The DVD edition reviewed here is the Korean (Region 3) Single Disc Edition which has as an anamorphic transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Image quality is exemplary, with an exceptionally clean print being used for the transfer. There are no image artifacts present and the picture really does justice to the visuals on show.
The original Korean language soundtrack is provided as a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0, with each being clear and expansive.
Excellent subtitles are provided throughout the main feature, but English speaking viewers should note that there are no subtitles available on any of the extras.

DVD Details:

• Director: Yang Jong-hyeon
• Format: NTSC, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled
• Language: Korean
• Subtitles: English, Korean
• Sound: Dolby
Digital 5.1, Dolby 2.0
• Region: Region 3
• Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
• Classification: PG 13
• Number of discs: 1
• Studio: Sidus FNH

DVD Extras:

• Audio Commentary
• 'Making Of' featurette
• Cast & Crew Interviews
• Behind The Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer

All images © Sidus FNH, Pre.Gm and Benex Investment
Review © P. Quinn