Review: Hitman: Agent Jun (2020), A No-Frills Half-Baked Action-Comedy that Entertains

When the kids in my writing classes are bereft of story ideas, I always remind them to think of an actual incident they have experienced, do a slight (or hard) left turn and let it ripped from there. In Hitman: Agent Jun, webtoon artist Jun (Kwon Sang-Woo) is at his wits’ end. Nothing he draws worked and the threat of being fired is looming. In a fit of drunken stupor and righteous anger, he draws his personal stories using actual names with no intention of uploading his secret past as a NIS secret agent and “Ace” assassin up to the internet. But the shite hits the fan when his wife accidentally uploads it. His webtoon becomes the talk of the town and before long his enemies and friends who thought he was dead come rampaging into his life and make it a living hell.

My wifey and I actually had the entire cinema to ourselves. Unbelievable! The COVID-19 thing is really killing a lot of F&B and entertainment businesses. No matter what, the show must go on and we laughed our heads off at the antics and hilarity of it all. It’s such a shame that nobody was there with us. A cinema filled with raucous laughter would have done everybody some good.

Okay this review is going to write itself and I suspect the novelty of having an entire cinema to ourselves earned the movie another half star. 

Like many Korean movies, Hitman: Agent Jun has an interesting premise, but building upon it is a different ball game. I can detect a lot of True Lies (1994) vibes, but this isn’t even remotely in the ballpark of James Cameron’s classic action-comedy. Hitman: Agent Jun coasts along with the affable charm of Kwon Sang-Woo and its intriguing premise.

There are lots of people dying but the deaths are portrayed in a cartoonish manner. The hero is practically bulletproof and irresistibly winsome, but his arc doesn’t go anywhere remotely memorable. His superior behaving like a child, screaming his entire dialogue grates on my nerves. The villain is the baddest guy on the planet because he has a humongously scarred face with one eye and he snarls through all his dialogue. Basically, the characters are drawn in convenient broad strokes and you will know how the plot will progress from a mile away. Finally, all the parties collide in a climax that is an over-long overkill and ends with a coda that is utterly useless, with me silently praying “no sequel please.”

Director Choi Won-Sub’s strategy is to machine-gun the whole canvas, but nothing hits the bullseye. To be fair, it is successful at some moments, bringing on mad laughter from us in an empty cinema (that’s not an easy task), but inventiveness and depth are not his forte. Jun’s daughter and wife story arc would have made an amazing story spine, but I guess that would scream True Lies in my face. That’s a shame because the scene of daughter rapping is particularly memorable and fresh, and the scene of the wife going wide-eyed in slow-motion and mouthing “where the f**k are you going?” as Jun careens his car in a new direction instead of saving her is hilarious. All in all, it’s not a bad way to spend 110 minutes, just leave your brain at the door. 

Rating 3/5

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