Eun-ha (played by Park So-dam) is a delivery driver. Her job is more impressive than the title implied- her boss President Baek (played by Kim Eui-sung) specializes in services for ne’er-do-wells, and their portside headquarters does a lot of international transfers. Some brief hints suggest that President Baek may be involved in more sinister human trafficking than just giving fugitives phony passports to escape to China, But on the other end Asif (played by Han Hyun-min) vouches for his dad’s trustworthiness with kids. And Asif’s like a cute little puppy, it’s hard to imagine him lying.
Why does it matter if any of these characters can be trusted with children? Well, it’s because after a job gone wrong Eun-ha is stuck with Seo-won (played by Jeong Hyeon-jun), a cute kid who has the money for an international escape, but was obviously supposed to come along with a guardian. Eun-ha has a disaffected millennial lifestyle at the start of the movie, not really caring about much aside from just hanging out with her cat. But eventually she decides that Seo-won isn’t so bad either.
That’s all a fairly predictable narrative arc, but it’s also not the reason anyone should want to watch the movie. What “Special Delivery” lacks in imaginative plotting it more than makes up for with some pretty wild car chase sequences. Where the typical vehicular action flick plays out like a video game, writer/director Park Dae-min has a surprisingly solid understanding of how cars work. At one point Eun-ha outwits a foe with her superior knowledge of tire traction.
What makes Eun-ha a strong action heroine is that she’s actually really focused on being a delivery driver. Which is to say, she avoids getting into fights with other cars, and instead just does her best to sneak away. In the big cold open car chase sequence Eun-ha uses her impressive parking technique to evade notice, and even gets in a duel with a train. As impossible as all these stunts may be, Park Dae-min‘s direction and Park So-dam‘s nonchalant delivery make them all seem quite plausible.
It also helps that, between President Baek, Asif, and the various other employees of the company, Eun-ha sees herself as a working woman who’s part of a larger team. I liked Eun-ha’s sense of humility. Her relationship with Seo-won is at its strongest when Eun-ha sees him as a reflection of her job, and feels guilty for trying to hand him off to someone else because that implies she’s being lazy. Eun-ha only cares about her own approval- but she has high standards.
So the characterization and the vehicular action scenes are all great. Where “Special Delivery” falters is in regards to its villain, the corrupt Detective Jo (played by Song Sae-byeok). There’s nothing especially bad about Detective Jo, he’s just not a very interesting character, nor a very threatening one. The subplot of his being under investigation is almost completely pointless. Editing it out would give “Special Delivery” a lean and much improved ninety minute runtime.
Review by William Schwartz
“Special Delivery” is directed by Park Dae-minand features Park So-dam, Song Sae-byeok, Kim Eui-sung, Jeong Hyeon-jun, Yeon Woo-jin, Yeom Hye-ran. Release date in Korea: 01/12/2022.