The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] ‘The Childe’ signals Kim Seon-ho’s return to golden age

By Kim Da-sol

Published : June 11, 2023 - 14:28

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A scene from “The Childe” (NEW) A scene from “The Childe” (NEW)

Director Park Hoon-jung, who helmed one of the most-loved Korean noir action films “New World” (2013), said he didn’t want any other actor except Kim Seon-ho for the starring role in “The Childe.”

This is Kim's first major starring film role since a scandal in 2021. Watching the film at a press screening on Thursday, it was easy to see why Park chose Kim for the role.

Far removed from Kim’s roster of attractive, charming male lead roles the audience is used to seeing him play, such as in rom-coms like “100 Day My Prince” (2018), Kim plays a coldhearted killer known only as Gwi Gong-ja, which in English means "Nobleman."

Director Park is a master of discovering new talent, as he did with actors Kim Da-mi and Shin Si-ah in “Witch” and “Witch 2.” In “The Childe,” rookie actor Kang Tae-joo was cast to play Marco after beating out some 1,980 other actors, but the director's real revelation in this movie is Kim Seon-ho's versatility.

Throughout the 118-minute running time, the plot advances quickly but without telling the audience where it is headed. The audience is not told why Gwi, who calls himself a “pro” chases Marco – a boxer of mixed descent from a Filipino mother and Korean father – who has come to Korea from the Philippines in search of his father.

Seemingly endless actions scenes from car chase to shoot-outs, the audience never gets bored in this R-rated film. If you are craving hard-core action scenes you couldn’t find “The Roundup: No Way Out,” “The Childe” may quench your thirst.

As the name suggests, just like Gwi Gong-ja in “Witch” played by Choi Woo-sik, Gwi Gong-ja in “The Childe” is also “neat but crazy,” according to Park.

Kim Seon-ho plays the role of a professional killer seamlessly. The character’s lame jokes and obsessions with his looks -- he appears in all scenes in a three-piece suit -- but holding a pistol with silencer attached, sometimes feels funny but horrifying.

Park’s focus on gunfight scenes rather than fistfights also perfectly suits the stylish action sequences featuring Gwi, which is reminiscent of the legendary church battle royale in the “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2014).

The actor-director combo of Kim and Park is likely to continue in future projects, as Park said he would do a sequel “if they don’t fight each other.”

Kim said he “communicated a lot” with Park and learned a lot from him by listening.

The two are shooting Park's latest film “Tyrant," a project that began in June.

“The Childe” opens in local theaters on June 21.

A scene from “The Childe” (NEW) A scene from “The Childe” (NEW)