Ballerina review: Style elevates material in this action thriller

Ballerina follows an ex-bodyguard taking revenge against a drug dealer who ruins her best friend’s life to the point that she commits suicide. The film is currently streaming on Netflix.


Ok-Ju, a former bodyguard, gets a call from her best friend she hasn’t talked to in a good while, to go to her house. She does and finds Min-Hee dead, but before she takes her life, she leaves a note for Ok-Ju, asking her to take revenge for her.

Ok-Ju tracks down Pro Choi, the man who was the reason for Min-Hee’s suicide. She goes to exact her revenge but only manages to disfigure his face before escaping as his henchmen arrive.

He sets his men loose to take care of her after he gets an ultimatum from his boss. Ok-Ju evades the men and later goes to Pro Choi’s base of operations to hunt him. Before getting to him, she wreaks mayhem on all the other goons.

As Ballerina concludes, Ok-Ju completes her revenge as she burns Choi to a crisp with her flamethrower. She shortly heads off to other of his gang’s base of operations to save other victims like Min-Hee.

- Advertisement -


Jeon Jong-seo as Jang Ok-ju is the anchor of the film and keeps it solid, much like her character, at least on the outside.

She doesn’t emote in any visible way apart from a few instances, but her shattered heart is really visible through her zombie-like disposition and one-track approach the revenge.

Kim Ji-hoon as Choi Pro is so good he makes one hate his guts in no time.

He’s also quite a capable villain but in the face of such a terrifying force of nature like Ok-Ju, his mewling cowardice is inevitably eked out of him, and Ji-Hoon delivers during those moments really well.


The action is snappy and impactful, with the blood and gore really being used to great effect. There’s also a catharsis that the well-choreographed action pieces allow for.

The performances are top-tier and elevate the material, which can be really paper-thin at times.

It deals in many clichés and tropes and yet also does away with some of them. The part where Ok-Ju pays little heed to Choi Pro’s boss and just headshots him to death is refreshing, to say the least.

The anger of the protagonist is felt, which is incredible because there is practically no material for her to put into words. Instead, the facial muscles and body language do the talking, and they talk loudly.


Ballerina has a really short runtime, which isn’t a bad thing except for the fact that it uses so much of it on unnecessary cameos and side characters.

The victim that accompanies Ok-Ju since the hotel fight could have easily been someone whom the latter runs into for a moment and learns about other victims like her during their run-in.

The same goes for the old couple who sell Ok-Ju the weapons, something that could even be done off-screen.


Ballerina is a stylized action thriller drenched in neon and blood, with punches that feel heavy and gunshots that are loud.

However, style takes precedence as the material takes the backseat which ends up making the whole affair not as impactful or even cathartic as it could be with fleshed-out relationships, better motivations, and more competence on the side of the antagonists.

Ballerina review: Style elevates material in this action thriller 1

Director: Lee Chung-Hyun

Date Created: 2023-10-06 12:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: Ballerina summary and ending explained