If there’s one particular kind of story that usually hits many of the right notes with Korean movie fans of late, it’s where the hero must rescue a child from certain dangerous, criminal elements. For this third film to date, writer/director Park Dae-min is handed the reigns for a story that clearly takes some cues from the likes of Edgar Wright, Simon West and Louis Leterrier and for this, we get Parasite and Man Of Will actress Park So-dam’s newest role in action thriller, Special Delivery.
Our story centers on Jung Eun-ha, a North Korean defector who’s long been in the care of Baek (Kim Eui-sung). Together with Asif (Howard Han), they operate an elite delivery business for clients out of Baek’s junkyard and save for Eun-ha’s eagerness for a 50/50 split away from the usual 40% take she earns, not only is she good at what she does, but her skills have even surpassed Baek’s in his prime and very few of their clients know that their driver is a wheelgirl in her late twenties with blue hair.
One evening, she reluctantly decides to take a job escorting a wanted man and his son to a ship. The father, Du-sik (Yeon Woo-jin) is being sought by the police for his role in a game fixing scheme that has now become headline news, much to the chagrin of a bent cop named Kyung-pil (Song Sae-byeok) who not only wants his money, but a particular thumbdrive that could all but seal the deal for his retirement and protect him from scrutiny once in his possession.
Eventually this propels the story further and faster when Eun-ha is forced to resuce Du-sik’s son, Seo-won (Jeong Hyun-jun), right in the moment when Kyung-pil and his men arrive to find what belongs to him. Then framed for murder and with a child now in her own care, Eun-ha has no choice but to make the tough decisions and utilize her carboosting skills, as well as her natural survival instincts if she’s to keep herself and her young package safe.
Park Dae-min crafts a largely fun and high enegry thriller with Special Delivery, conjoining some interesting characters with the roster for a familiar narrative. One aspect here deals with the film’s exploration of immigrants living in Asia wherein we meet the role of Asif, which is certainly something different in a film market that largely prioritizes its own representation. Asif’s friendship with Baek and Eun-ha is fun to see on screen and adds just a little more veracity and palatability to the film’s atmosphere, and could possibly open the doors for something different for Korean cinema to achieve if it so chooses.
The relationship between Eun-ha and Seo-won does grow on you as we watch Eun-ha evolve just a little more from a money-focused street survivalist to someone you can empathize with. The moment she catches her reflection while picking up money from the floor is a key character moment which makes her transformation easy to understand and absorb, in addition to the bit of backstory Baek provides to another character in a later scene.
That part further speaks to the toughness and tenacity of Eun-ha in watching her do much more than drive her way through bad guys with Seo-won in her care. Not only is she a beast behind the wheel, but where size matters in a physical contest, she compromises with enough speed and agility, and skin thick enough to take the hardest blows and throws when she can. It also helps that she’s resourceful during these particular fight scenes.
The ending does leave a bit to be desired in a twist that would have originally been perceived to be tragic if director Park didn’t have the audacity. I guess the film definitely called for the kind of ending we got with Special Delivery, regardless of whatever visual aides were lacking, and really it’s not too hampering in terms of the film’s overall experience. It’s high-octane, thrilling and lots of fun.
Special Delivery screened for the 26th installment of the Fantasia International Film Festival.