Ubisoft Presents Fantasia 2008

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Punch Lady

(Peonchi Leidi)

North american Premiere

North American Premiere

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Director: Kang Hyo-jin
Screenplay: Kang Hyo-jin
Cast: Doh Ji-won, Son Hyun-ju, Park Sang-wook
Producers: Kim Jae-hong
Distributor: Prime Entertainment


There’s no denying it, it takes a really lowdown dirtbag to beat his wife, and in the dirtbag department, Ha-eun couldn’t have found anything lower than Ju-chang. Worst part is, he’s an extreme fighting champion, and he doesn’t stop at simply striking her. He throws her into walls, half-strangles her and pitches objects at her. Ha-eun absorbs so much abuse, it’s not certain how much longer she’ll survive it. But the night he goes for their daughter is the night she’s had enough, and at long last leaves. She reconnectes with a former paramour, now likewise a fierce fighter, and this one invites her to his next match—against her husband. Ju-chang’s treacherous tricks, however, leave him victorious and Ha-eun’s friend dead. In rage and despair, Ha-eun hijacks a press conference to challenge Ju-chang to combat in the ring. He accepts and even says he’ll fight with an arm tied behind him. It’s on. And Ha-eun has practically no chance of winning and little time to train, but she does have one advantage—she knows how to take a shot.

If you’re expecting another Korean film subtly mixing drama and wry dark comedy, expect to get smacked upside the head, but hard. PUNCH LADY is a heartrending psychological study of a woman trapped in a cycle of violence, wrapped in a coating of humour equally sitcom and slapstick, culminating in a gripping climactic battle. Realism and logic be damned, PUNCH LADY is a beast unleashed. From the flicker of the first few frames you’ll want nothing other than to see Ha-eun, who no one believes in, get it together and bust the head of her cockroach of a husband. Thanks in no small part to the heartbreaking and hilarious performance of Doh Ji-won, this woman-empowering sports drama, which might well have veered off in very wrong directions, holds tight and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)