Friday, December 22, 2017

Film Review: Coin Locker Girl (2015)

Coin Locker Girl (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...one of my favorite Korean thrillers in recent memory."

After she’s found abandoned in a coin locker, a girl is raised by the boss of a loan shark and organ trafficking crime ring.

Coin Locker Girl begins with the discovery of an abandoned girl in a coin locker. The girl is found by a beggar who names her Il-young (Kim Go-eun). Ten years later, Il-young is taken by a corrupt detective and given to a woman known as “Mother” (Kim Hye-soo), who happens to be the powerful boss of a loan shark and organ trafficking crime ring. Mother raises Il-young, along with other abducted children, and continues to build her criminal empire. However, after she’s sent to collect a debt from Suk-hyun, son of a debtor, Il-young begins to question her actions and becomes attracted to Suk-hyun. One thing leads to another, and soon Il-young finds herself bumping heads with her former gang. It leads to a strong climax and a predictable but powerful ending.


Coin Locker Girl is a fantastic crime thriller. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my favorite Korean thrillers in recent memory. The plot is unique and compelling while remaining simple and efficient. It has a lot to say, but it refuses to take the art-house approach. The characters are very interesting. Yes, we’ve seen them before, Il-young is another one of those super cool Korean characters that doesn’t care about anything, but they’re all interesting and they grow. Their relationships are important, too. There is a strong connection between the characters, which makes some of the scenes so much more effective. There’s also some surprising levels of violence. It’s not I Saw The Devil, but it has its moments. The pacing is also fantastic. The film never felt slow or padded with filler.

On the other hand, there were a few moments where I wished the film was longer. I wanted to learn more about certain characters and a certain character’s death felt half-assed, like if the filmmakers were out of time or resources. That’s really my only complaint. Give me an extended edition!

Although her character is the ‘super cool’-type, Kim Go-eun delivered a great performance. She has a great range of emotion and, although occasionally over-the-top, she feels natural and genuine. She was also great in Monster and Memories of the Sword. Kim Hye-soo was fantastic. She didn’t over-act at all, delivering a perfectly sinister performance. The supporting cast was strong, too. The film was shot well. The cinematography and lighting were great. The music was also good. The film was written and directed by Han Jun-hee, based on a novel by RyĆ« Murakami. I haven’t read the novel, but I’m guessing it delved deeper into some of the things I complained about in this review. Otherwise, Han is a great writer and director. He had a vision for a gritty crime thriller and he delivered the goods.

Overall, Coin Locker Girl is a fantastic film. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I ended up loving it. It’s not the perfect thriller, but it’s one of the best in recent memory. If you’re looking for something unique, bloody, emotional, and entertaining, this is for you. Fans of Korean films, don’t miss this one.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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