Kim Ok-vin, the heroine of "The Villainess," said Wednesday that she was drawn in by its rarity as a female-led action flick but that what was more difficult than action was delivering the character's emotions.
Directed by Jung Byung-gil, the homegrown movie centers on Suk-hee (Kim), a young girl who is raised to be a deadly assassin. After being abandoned by her organization, she is recruited by South Korea's state intelligence agency as an agent. But she seeks revenge after realizing the secrets and conspiracies surrounding her.
The film premiered in the out-of-competition midnight category of the 70th Cannes Film Festival.
"I originally like to exercise a lot, but I unfortunately didn't have any chance to show this. So, I was very glad when I received an offer to be in the film," she said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency at a Seoul cafe. "I was attracted by the fact that it is a rare film that shows the growth process of a woman."
Kim said she had always felt sorry for the limited number of characters an actress could play in the Korean film industry. On the other hand, she said she felt much pressure not to ruin her hard-found chance to appear in a female-centered action film when she received the screenplay. "I thought nobody would be willing to do this kind of adventure again if this one proves to be a failure."
The 30-year-old actress did more than 90 percent of her action scenes without a stunt double, effortlessly wielding a variety of weapons ranging from long daggers to machine guns and even axes.
In the film, she swings her long daggers to kill her opponent while riding a motorcycle and breaks the windshield of a running car, climbs over the hood and catches the steering wheel by stretching back one hand to chase the enemy.
Kim said that she attended an action stunt school every day for four months to get training. "Even though I was trained in sweat at the exercise room where there was no air conditioning in the summer, I enjoyed watching my progress day by day," she said. "But what was really difficult in filming was not action but the emotional performance."
That was because, although her character Suk-hee indiscriminately kills people, her underlying emotion was sadness, the actress explained. Moreover, being a mother was something that she has never experienced in real life, she added.
Kim showed her affection for the film that provided her a second chance in life to walk on the red carpet of Cannes after director Park Chan-wook's "Thirst" in 2009.
"After eight months of passion and suffering, I felt a sense of accomplishment and confidence that I did something important," she said.
"The Villainess" presold to 115 countries
The distribution rights to the Cannes Midnight Screenings title "The Villainess" have been sold to 115 countries ahead of its domestic release, its local distributor said Wednesday.
Directed by Jung Byung-gil, the action flick follows a mysterious woman who has been raised as a killer and is recruited to be a secret agent. It stars Kim Ok-bin and Shin Ha-kyun, who both starred in South Korean director Park Chan-wook's 2009 vampire film "Thirst."
The film premiered in the Midnight Screenings category at the 70th Cannes Film Festival on Monday.
"The rights to 'The Villainess' have been sold to distributors in 115 countries around the world, including North America, South America, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Taiwan and the Philippines," the Next Entertainment World said in a release.
Contents Panda, a local agency for the film's overseas contracts, says that the movie is drawing keen attention from overseas buyers for having a unique female-killer character and its entertainment element as an action movie."
The movie is set to open in local theaters June 8.
sources: Yonhap News 1 & 2, New Trailer Buzz