John Wick Ballerina Spinoff Too Late, Netflix Already Has One Streaming

By Robert Scucci | Updated


Revenge movies are all the rage these days, and can you really blame audiences for having an unquenchable thirst for righteous justice and cinematic carnage? If you’re picking up what we’re throwing down, then you need to check out Netflix’s Ballerina, which is currently available for streaming, and sitting pretty at #8 in Netflix’s movies category as of this writing.

Ballerina boasts the same title as the upcoming 2024 John Wick spin-off, and considering that both films are in the same wheelhouse of revenge and egregious violence, we’re wondering if this South Korean action thriller will give the John Wick franchise a run for its money.

Ballerina is a revenge movie streaming on Netflix

Ballerina has a simple, yet effective premise: Jang Ok-ju is a former bodyguard who is tasked with avenging her friend, Choi Min-Hee’s death. That’s really all there is to it if you want to break it down to brass tacks.

Unlike some revenge stories that get convoluted and ham-fisted by the third act, Ballerina can be compared to the Kill Bill movies, or even Mad Max: Fury Road in the sense that once the plot is established, you’re subjected to a violent odyssey that you shouldn’t watch with a critical eye, but simply rather let happen to you.

In Ballerina, Jang Ok-ju is a former bodyguard who is tasked with avenging her friend, Choi Min-Hee’s death.

This is not to say that Ballerina is lacking by any means. We know what’s at stake right out of the gate, and Ok-ju wastes no time in her attempts to track down Oj-ju, the primary antagonist of this film who has been described as a cross between Brandon Lee and Jared Leto in his delivery.

We’re quickly enlightened to the inner workings of Oj-ju’s operations in drug dealing and sex trafficking, and he’s the perfect kind of villain for this kind of movie.

Ballerina is special in the sense that we don’t need to waste a lot of time establishing the story. We know Ok-Ju’s mission, and how she’ll stop at nothing to avenge her friend. In 90 minutes time, we are subjected to expertly choreographed brawls against a brilliant set design that will leave you awestruck and checking your pulse to see if you’re still alive, or if you somehow also met your fate simply by witnessing the violent scenes in question.

Some reviewers have criticized Ballerina for having more style than substance, but it’s hard to criticize a film that’s clearly taking the “vibe” approach in its cinematography. We love a complex and engaging story as much as the next person, but there’s something to be said about a film that hits the ground running, and doesn’t let up until the final credits roll.

If the reviews are any indication, Ballerina does exactly what it sets out to do, and places emphasis on its action sequences over an elaborate plot. As of this writing, the Lee Chung-hyun-directed film has a perfect 100 percent critical score against an audience score of 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Ballerina’s current reviews universally highlight the stunning visuals and was even called one of the best-looking films of the year.

Ballerina scored 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes with critics

Jeon Jong-seo’s performance as Ok-ju will blow you away, even if you find that the overall plot lacks substance. But just like the Kill Bill movies, Ballerina performs just fine without going off into the weeds.

We’ve become spoiled in recent decades with films that have much longer run times while building out an entire universe, but sometimes we miss out on the finer things like getting bombarded with so much unrelenting action that the short scenes without violence leave us bored and foaming at the mouth for more.

It’s not too often that we get a strong female lead at the center of everything who will make you think twice about picking on somebody half your size. Review Roger Moore from Movie Nation sums it up perfectly when he says “this tiny dancer packs a flamethrower.”

If you’re thirsty for revenge, and don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on dialogue, then Ballerina is a must-see. The phrase “style over substance” often has a negative connotation, but when Ballerina’s intent becomes clear, you can’t fault the movie for giving its target audience exactly what it wants.

If you want more lore and world-building, check out the John Wick movies. If you want to sit back and watch bodies fly, then Ballerina comes with strong recommendation.