He raped 12 women and murdered them. Like the killer who nonchalantly asked what the lunch menu was on the way back from re-enacting a murder scene, he spits out an awful curse in front of the victim’s family, feeling no guilt over what he did. The film “Executioner” does not ask the audience whether the life of such a man should be spared, as evil as he may be, or if such a less-than-human being should be killed. It rather indirectly questions capital punishment through the pain the executioners experience. These executioners are the real victims exposed to violence of the system and reality as they cannot help but get their hands dirty to justify government-supported killings.
The three executioners in the film -- Jae-kyeong (played by Yoon Kye-sang), Jong-ho (Jo Jae-hyeon) and Officer Kim (Park In-hwan) -- who carry out the death penalty are, at heart, one person. The three characters seem to represent the beginning, middle and end of time of someone who spent a very long time at prison, a place where time almost ceases to exist. They show how differently they feel about the capital punishment, according to the time each has spent working at the prison. Yoon Kye-sang -- as rookie officer Jae-kyung who knew nothing about being a prison officer and still stays there after experiencing horribly violent moments in work and love - puts the finishing touches on the film’s message with his few lines of dialogue and gradually changing facial expressions and shadows. Actor Park In-whan -- playing the role of Officer Kim who has become friends with the death row inmate during the time leading up to the execution - displays the look of a man who finally realizes the weight of blood on his hands as he sends off a friend. He even manages to add, in his acting, the regrets of life shared by men past their middle age. Jae-kyeong, Jong-ho and Officer Kim reflect on one another as the past and future of one person, and hint that the violent scars left inside them will somehow influence their lives.
In truth, it is hard to say the film has a deep perspective about the violence of capital punishment. The film is tipped toward one point of view about the system, and loses its focus trying to show different perspectives by attaching meaning on all the other incidents as well. But at a time when people are spending their energy on debating the validity of capital punishment over every criminal incident, the film “Executioner” has a clear agenda -- to re-establish the boundaries of capital punishment by looking at it from an executioner’s perspective. Not the unspecified masses who scream “Such a man deserves to die”, not the victim, and not the death row inmate on the opposite side, but the executioner who actually participates in the burdening act of killing the prisoner. “The Executioner” opens in theaters on November 5.
Reporter : Yoonina, TV Critic
Editor : Lynn Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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