‘A Killer Paradox’ review: retribution rules in this anti-hero tale

Aprilia Rine

‘A Killer Paradox’ review: retribution rules in this anti-hero tale

A Killer Paradox’s Lee Tang (played by Choi Woo-shik) is an average university student. He spends his free time watching YouTube travel vlogs, dreaming of leaving his boring hometown and fantasising about heading off on a working holiday. He’s unmotivated in class and is unperturbed at the idea of missing his exams – he can always retake them in the summer. Outside of class, he works in a convenience store, where he’s nagged over his punctuality by co-workers and, on the night shift, has to deal with drunk customers ordering him about.

One night, after cleaning up after a drunk old man and his friend, the student heads home and finds the intoxicated shopper passed out on the side of a backstreet. The next block over, he encounters the man’s companion, who is initially nonplussed by Tang’s urges to help his mate, but soon becomes annoyed and aggressive. Rather than leave him to his ranting, Tang grabs the hammer he’s borrowed from the convenience store from his bag and commits a very out-of-character murder.

Back home, he’s wracked with guilt and considers turning himself in and even taking his own life. But then, a news bulletin gives him some relief – his victim was actually a serial killer who’d been evading police. Perhaps, in some twisted way, Tang’s actions have served justice? That might help him live with himself more comfortably, were it not for a witness coming forward and blackmailing him or the suspicious interrogations of determined detective Jang Nan-gam (Son Suk-ku).

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A cat-and-mouse game follows between Tang and Nan-gam, as the urge to kill keeps coming and the obstacles to getting off scot-free pile up. Things get increasingly unhinged at the midway point of the series, with the introduction of former detective-turned-villain Song Chon (Lee Hee-joon) complicating the web that connects these foes and the nuances behind who’s right and wrong.

A Killer Paradox might be billed as a thriller, but it’s far from a typical offering in the genre and adds flashes of other styles, like fantasy, into the mix. Combined with a plot that keeps you on your toes and feels worlds apart from the usual murder and retribution fare, it makes for an engrossing – and increasingly gross and gory – watch. Big, complex questions are asked about justice and morals, aided by stellar performances throughout.

Choi Woo-shik, in particular, is phenomenal as the unlikely avenger. Even as he seems to settle more into his murderous role with each episode, his face becomes more and more haunted, a washed-out imitation of the daydreaming slacker we’re first introduced to. Lee Hee-joon, too, adds fresh bite and menace to the series, giving you someone clearcut to root against in the middle of the ethical mire. For the rest of it, you’ll be torn between unwitting anti-hero and traditional figure of virtue for this year’s most thrilling face-off so far.

A Killer Paradox is available to stream on Netflix exclusively.

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