Imagine being James Bond. A superstar hitman whose legend is known all across the country. Now imagine giving all of that up so you can pursue your true calling of…drawing cartoons.
As zany as that sounds, that is the premise of Hitman: Agent Jun and believe it or not, it is a film that not only works but it is amazingly thought out in its details.
Hitman: Agent Jun begins with a young Jun (Kwon Sang-woo), an orphan who lost his parents to a car accident. Jun is recruited by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) to become a hitman in training. After ascending to the NIS’s top agent, Jun no longer has the urge to kill and just wants a normal life. One night, on a mission in the ocean, Jun fakes his own death in order to get the peace he deserves.
15 years later, Jun has a family and a failed career as a web cartoonist. After his latest piece gets savaged by online viewers, Jun draws a comic depicting his life as a secret agent and accidentally posts it. The comic is a smash hit with readers so he decides to draw more about his life. This gets the attention of the NIS as well as Jun’s old enemies who had long thought he was dead. Jun is now in a desperate race for time to keep his old life from destroying his new life.
The genre of action-comedy has the potential to morph into a mess when done poorly. Hitman: Agent Jun’s attention to detail and story is what sets it apart from other 2020 films. The storytelling is engaging and doesn’t waste a detail in what is presented and its importance to the central plot. The characters are diverse in their style and personalities. As a leading man, Kwon Sang-woo does a great job of playing the loving father and a badass agent while maintaining believability as both. His wife plays a neurotic breadwinner, his daughter is a surprising up and coming rapper. Other supporting characters include an over the top comic book villain, a NIS boss whose special ability is kicking people in the kneecaps, and a webcomic boss who is just the wrong person at the wrong time.
There are some beautiful animations and some well thought out action sequences that make for great fight choreography. The only knock on the film comes with it’s ending that stretches a bit too long and goes a bit over the top. While the comedy might work better for Korean audiences over international fans, there are a lot of intangibles the film presents to make it a must-see for the year.
Hitman: Agent Jun wins high marks for originality, creativity, and entertainment.