Fantasia 2022 Review: SPECIAL DELIVERY, Park So-dam Slays The Streets Of Seoul In This Action Thriller
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned car chase, and director Park Dae-min’s Special Delivery is chock full of them. Borrowing liberally from Hollywood bangers like The Transporter series, Baby Driver, and Drive; Special Delivery is the familiar story of a beast behind the wheel whose usual cold demeanor gets tested when she gets emotionally entangled with her cargo. Derivative, sure, but an exciting watch that focuses heavily on solid performances from its leads and thrilling but grounded stunt driving, Special Delivery is definitely worth checking out.
Jang Eun-ha (Park So-dam, Parasite) is a special kind of driver. She’s the one who gets the call when a package absolutely must get from one place to another, even though there might be forces trying to keep it from happening. Her face is like stone, ice water runs through her veins, and she doesn’t take any shit.
When we’re introduced to Eun-ha having been hired to get a smarmy misogynist local small-time gangster from one part of Seoul to another, his taunts prove to be his undoing. She loses multiple tails in the cramped corners and side streets of the Korean capital, tossing her big-headed passengers around like rag dolls, but getting them to their destination safely and on time. The man brags that he’d never hired a woman to be anything more prestigious than selling liquor but wants to offer her a job. Eun-ha isn’t having it, she’s found a groove and she’s happy.
The next call changes everything. A former baseball star and his son are trying to get out of Korea, but some shady dealings with throwing games and $30 million hidden away from a bigger gangster make that very difficult. Kim Du-shik (Yeon Woo-jin) is trying to leave his dark past behind, but the only way he makes it out alive with Eun-ha’s help. Unfortunately for them both, Kim’s son Seo-won (Jung Hun-jun) is the only one who makes it into the getaway car, and he’s in possession of a key fob that these gangsters will do anything to get back. Now Eun-ha and Seo-won are running for their lives, with murderous crime lords and determined cops on their backs, and there’s very little hope of a clean escape for either.
With Eun-ha and Seo-won sharing the screen for the bulk of Special Delivery’s run time, it’s crucial that the chemistry between the two is perfect, and thankfully they both deliver. Park So-dam proved to be the breakout star of Parasite a few years back, and this film proves that was no fluke with a no-nonsense performance that is miles away from that film’s Ki-jung. Jung’s Seo-won also performs admirably as a boy on the run from a danger he doesn’t entirely understand. Somewhere out in the ether a team of ruthless criminals is stalking them, eagerly hamming it up for the cameras, but the main duo holds it down in respectable fashion.
There’s not a lot particularly new in Special Delivery, almost all of the ideas above have been done elsewhere, and in several cases, quite well. However, that does not mean that this new iteration can’t be incredibly entertaining and very solid on its own merits. The film loses its way a bit when characters are introduced a bit late in the game, detracting from the previously very clear linear story line, but it is not enough to distract from excellent lead actors and solidly exciting stunt work. Special Delivery is a showcase for everyone involved and definitely warrants tracking down.