South Korean film “Special Delivery”, whose theatrical release in South Korea was incidentally delayed for around 2 years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is a competent genre product to be appreciated for its taut and efficient handling of story and action. While it is clearly influenced by a number of well-known seniors ranging from Walter Hill’s “The Driver” (1978) to John Cassavetes’ “Gloria” (1980), the movie has enough style and substance to engage and entertain us, and it also confirms again to us the considerable talent and presence of its lead performer.
Park So-dam, who has been more prominent these days thanks to her delightfully saucy performance in Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film “Parasite” (2019), plays Eun-ha, a tough young woman who has earned her living via her particular set of skills. On the surface, she is just a mere employee working at one shabby garage in Busan, but she is actually a very skillful driver who can “deliver everything that the post office service does not handle”, and the opening sequence, which is reminiscent a bit of the opening part of Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” (2011), shows us how deftly and swiftly she handles her latest delivery job without any misstep.
Not long after this job is done, another delivery job is suddenly handed to Eun-ha, and she and her boss, who has virtually been like a good uncle to her, promptly embark on making their delivery plan. Although she has to go to Seoul in this time, all she has to do is waiting at a certain spot before picking up and then delivering whoever will come according to the plan, and she will certainly be paid well once this job is done.
However, not so surprisingly, this delivery job turns out to be much riskier than expected. When Eun-ha is waiting for the client at that certain spot, a young boy is frantically running toward her car, and she instinctively senses that something is terribly going wrong. At first, she considers leaving the spot as soon as possible without looking back at all, but, probably out of pity and compassion, she decides to let the boy get into her car, and then they soon find themselves chased by a bunch of thugs.
Around that point, the movie lets us have a pretty clear idea of what is going on around Eun-ha and the boy. He is the only son of the client, and, before he gets killed in the end, the client gave his son an incriminating piece of evidence against someone with whom he has been associated for years. Of course, that criminal figure in question and those thugs are quite willing to retrieve this evidence by any means necessary, and the situation later becomes more complicated as we get to know more about how dangerous and powerful this criminal organization really is.
As instructed by her boss, Eun-ha could just let the boy handled by one of her boss’ criminal associates, but she eventually decides to take a much harder way for the boy’s safety, and the movie accordingly gives us a series of well-executed moments including a suspenseful scene where our heroine must outwit her opponents as soon as possible. Although her driving skill is utilized less than expected, you will not grumble at all as watching a gritty vehicle action sequence which will grab you hard from the beginning to the end, and director/co-writer Park Dae-min and his crew members did a commendable job of vividly conveying to us many physical impacts during this impressive sequence.
Meanwhile, the movie also pays a lot of attention to the growing relationship between Eun-ha and the boy, who is not just a story element to be wielded in one way or another. Although she simply follows what should be done in her view, Eun-ha comes to care about the boy much more than she admits on the surface, and the boy also comes to depend a lot on Eun-ha as being reminded more that there is no one to help him except her.
It surely helps that Park and young performer Jeong Hyeon-jun, who also appeared as one of the main characters in “Parasite”, click well with each other on the screen. While confidently embodying her character’s toughness and resourcefulness, Park ably demonstrates another side of her talent here in this film, and her terse but undeniably strong acting is complemented well by Jeong’s unadulterated natural performance.
In addition, the movie assembles a group of colorful performers around Park and Jeong. I will not go into details for not spoiling any of your entertainment, but I can tell you instead that Kim Eui-sung, Song Sae-byeok, Han Hyun-min, Yeon Woo-jin, and Yeom Hye-ran are well-cast in their respective supporting roles, and, as a longtime cat lover, I will not deny that I smiled during a few tender scenes between Eun-ha and her grumpy pet cat, who cannot help but steal the scene a bit from Park whenever the camera looks at it.
On the whole, “Special Delivery” did its job as splendidly as expected, and I and a friend of mine had a fairly thrilling time as watching it at a local movie theater during last evening. As a dude who knows a lot about vehicles, he pointed out some unrealistic moments in the film after we came out of the screening room, but both of us agreed that the movie is still entertaining enough nonetheless, and I am sure that you will agree to that after watching it.