Netflix’s ‘Ballerina’ is a South Korean action thriller film that follows the story of Ok-ju, played by Jeon Jong-seo. She is a lonely ex-bodyguard who finds out that her best friend, Min-hee, has taken her life. As more details about what happened to Min-hee surface, Ok-ju gets angrier and even more determined to find the man responsible for her friend’s death, Pro Choi. Determined and on a quest to avenge her friend, Ok-ju embraces her ruthless side and faces plenty of obstacles and men she knocks down at regular intervals. While she’s off to a good start, there are plenty of twists and turns that await her. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Ballerina Plot Synopsis
A terrified cashier witnesses his store getting robbed by goons just when Ok-ju casually swoops in and expertly beats the hell out of them, saving the day. This is when we learn she is a badass who can take care of herself but also lives a very lonely life because of what she does. One fine day, she gets a call from an old best friend, Min-hee, who asks her to come over. Excited about finally having something to look forward to, Ok-ju heads over to her place with bottles of alcohol. She finds a box with a note addressed to her in Min-hee’s apartment. It just reveals that Min-hee wants Ok-ju’s help in avenging the wrongs that were done to her. She doesn’t know what happened, but that Min-hee is probably in danger. Soon enough, she finds Min-hee immersed in a pool of blood after slitting her wrist.
With the help of some flashbacks, we learn that Ok-ju met Min-hee on her birthday when she was very alone and had no reason to celebrate. She used to live life like a zombie, knowing that she can get shot and die anytime while working as a private bodyguard for VIPs. But her meeting with Min-hee gave her life a new purpose and a reason to smile. Now that she’s no more, Ok-ju is determined to find what happened to her. With the information about Chef Choi Min-hee gives her, Ok-ju manages to find Choi and knows instantly that he’s bad news. When he’s away, she wires his house and manages to find a tape titled ‘Ballerina’, which shows how he assaulted and drugged Min-hee and was most likely using it to blackmail her. Ok-ju dresses up to play the part of a damsel in distress after learning Choi is on the hunt for a new woman. She manages to catch his attention and he brings her to a hotel, where he tries to drug her and do the same thing he did to Min-hee.
But Ok-ju is an expert and has a knife ready, with which she manages to brutally scar his face. She’s about to go for the kill when she gets interrupted by Choi’s aides in the hotel, and has to run away with another woman who was being held there by force. Choi gets all patched up but the ring leader he deals with isn’t pleased with him getting beaten up by a woman. He wants Choi to find her, but Choi plans to destroy the woman who scarred his beautiful face and took his Lamborghini. He teams up with a pharmacist, Myung-shik, to track and kill her, but she manages to escape again. What follows is the fateful day when Ok-ju will stop at nothing to get to Choi, who is also trying desperately to reach her so he can kill her.
Ballerina Ending: Does Ok-ju Kill Choi?
The face-offs between Ok-ju and Choi have been gripping from the first time Ok-ju tries to kill him in the hotel room. She’s already an expert and knows how to beat up multiple men twice her size in one go. He, too, is believed to be their best fighter, as the ring leader reminds him when he’s lying in the hospital with his face all botched up. With an enemy that sly who has managed to take her by surprise a couple of times, it’s not clear till the very end if she will actually succeed in killing him. But she is a survivor and bounces back fresh after every hit. When it comes to their final face-off, Ok-ju is about to kill Myung-shik after finishing off all the men in the lab single-handedly. But Choi comes out of nowhere and shoots her arm from a distance, making her fall down. This leads to even more twists as Choi kills Myung-shik too. It seems like all is over for Ok-ju as Choi approaches her for the final kill, and she still needs to fumble for her weapon.
But there’s yet another twist, and her friend suddenly wakes up and shoots Choi. The shots miss him, but he surely gets distracted, giving Ok-ju enough time to fire her shots at him till he’s down. But Choi still isn’t dead yet, and Ok-ju brings him to the beach for the final face-off. She brings out the weapon she acquired earlier that is used to destroy wasp nets, but breathes enough fire to consume anyone in front of it. Choi pleads for his life, and since it’s not clear why she is doing all this, she finally reveals this is all for the “Ballerina.” Choi recognizes that title immediately from the tape and starts begging for his life. He has another tactic up his sleeve where he tries to insult and body-shame Min-hee to get under Ok-ju’s nerves. His tactics make her tear up as she remembers Min-hee, but her resolve to end him only gets stronger. With a promise that she’ll hunt him down in hell too, she chars him to death.
What Does Ok-ju Find in the Diary Inside Choi’s Drawer?
Ok-ju heads over to Choi’s house after killing him to pick up the pen drives of all the tapes he kept for blackmailing the women. This time, she also finds his diary and check the entries. It holds a detailed log of all the women he wronged and the places he called them, including one at Jamsu Bridge, where he called Min-hee after she died. That time, he had no idea Ok-ju was listening on the other side of the phone. This shows how many women he was torturing similarly, and how he views them as prey, since he always seems to refer to them in hunting terms. This is also why while buying weapons to finish Choi and his aides, Ok-ju reveals she is going hunting, leading to the discovery of the deadly weapon that finally took Choi’s life in the end.
The diary also includes the percentage of the cut he was paying to people for their involvement in helping him date rape these women. Choi also viewed his activities as a part-time job, as he mentioned to the ring leader in the hospital, and also the reason he was able to afford his lavish lifestyle and his beloved Lamborghini. This shows how for him, women were always a means to an end. He knew that by threatening and manipulating them, he could in a sense own them and make a business out of it. Ok-ju knew of this side of him immediately, which is why she herself wanted to hunt him, to make him understand what the helpless women he was blackmailing and torturing were going through and to instill some fear in him.
Who is the Ballerina in the Sea?
The film ends with a shot of a beautiful ballerina circling in the sea, who seems to be at peace. This refers to a flashback scene after Ok-ju kills Choi. In the scene, Ok-ju learns how free and happy Min-hee feels close to the sea, and that it makes her feel alive. Even if it seems odd to her then, Min-hee is sure she will come back in the next life as a fish, since she feels the world belongs to them, and the humans just seem delusional about it being theirs. At the end of it, Ok-ju knows Min-hee is now free to be a fish in the sea, just like the ballerina at the end. This also seems to be a reference to Ok-ju’s final conversation with Choi right before he dies. While he indicates he will continue to torment Min-hee in hell, Ok-ju knows Min-hee is in a much better place, hopefully as a fish in the sea.
Interestingly, this is not the only reference to fish in the movie. In the beginning when Ok-ju comes over to Min-hee’s apartment, she walks by plenty of aquariums, clearly indicating Min-hee’s love for fish. Later, when Ok-ju wires Choi’s house, she hears him planning to go fishing. In this case, fishing for him refers to finding his next prey or the woman he will videotape and then threaten to ruin their lives. While fishing is associated with something negative in this case, right after listening to that conversation, Ok-ju walks over to the aquarium in Min-hee’s apartment before picking out her outfit for the night and sighs, probably remembering Min-hee and her wish to become a fish.
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