“Ballerina” is a heart-pounding revenge thriller that throws audiences into a whirlwind of action and gritty violence. The film revolves around Ok-Ju, a retired bodyguard whose world shatters when her childhood friend, Min-hee, takes her own life. Grief twists into a singular purpose: to honor Min-hee’s final wish and become the instrument of her vengeance. Ok-Ju embarks on a hunt, determined to unmask the culprit, Choi, and make him pay the ultimate price. But as she infiltrates Choi’s world, the line between hunter and hunted blurs dangerously, and Ok-Ju soon realizes that revenge can be a deadly dance.

This article contains spoilers.

Ballerina (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

“Ballerina” opens in a supermarket with a laid-back part-timer on the night shift when robbers enter the store and ask the part-timer to clear the cash register. As there is a commotion at the register, Ok-Ju walks up to the part-timer, indifferent to anything going on, and buys what she needs. However, the thieves are not too pleased with Ok-Ju’s attitude and try to attack her. What the thugs don’t know is that Ok-Ju can fight, and she beats them to a pulp. In the next scene, we see a ballet performance, and Min-hee twists her ankle mid-performance and falls.

Later, Min-hee calls Ok-Ju, asking to meet even though it has been a long time since they have spoken. Glad that Min-hee reached out, Ok-Ju buys some drinks and reaches Min-hee’s house. Despite agreeing to meet, when Ok-Ju arrives, Min-hee does not open the door, and Ok-Ju lets herself inside. On Min-hee’s bed, Ok-Ju finds a box. Inside it is a pair of ballet shoes with a note for Ok-Ju. The note is a request for Ok-Ju to get revenge, and Min-hee hopes Ok-Ju can help. The note also contains an ID: chef.choi_1004, the person Ok-Ju needs to get revenge on.

What Secrets Did Min-Hee Hide?

Still, at Min-hee’s apartment, Ok-Ju calls Min-hee, and the phone is in the bathroom. As Ok-Ju enters the bathroom, she finds that Min-hee has killed herself and is lying inside a bathtub. In a flashback, we see Min-hee has a bakery, and Ok-Ju and Min-hee used to go to the same school and have reconnected after many years. On that day, Ok-Ju had come to the bakery to buy herself a birthday cake. Both friends catch up, and Ok-Ju reveals that she is a bodyguard protecting VIPs and Min-hee is a ballerina. In the present, Ok-Ju gets to work and looks up chef_choi, comes across a page, and orders sushi from him. Before the conversation goes much further, Choi leaves the chat.

Ballerina (2023) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “Ballerina” (2023)

As Ok-Ju thinks about her next course of action, she is reminded of the times she spent with Min-hee and her confession that before Min-hee came into her life, she was living like a zombie, but after Min-hee, Ok-Ju has learned to enjoy life. There is a call on Min-hee’s phone, and Ok-Ju receives and hears a man threatening her that if she doesn’t meet him, he will reveal the true nature of Min-hee, making her friends and family disown her. The caller assumes the person on the other side is Min-hee, but unfortunately, Ok-Ju hears it.

What Does Choi Hide Behind His Luxury Facade?

Now, Ok-Ju has a lead and reaches the place where the man had asked Min-hee to come. From afar, Ok-Ju watches the man (Choi) giving food boxes to a few people. They walk away, open the box, take some capsules from inside, and throw the food in the bin. To confirm if the man really is Choi, Ok-Ju watches him call Min-hee, and when she does not receive he leaves. Now confirming the identity, Ok-Ju follows Choi as he cruises around in his Lamborghini.

The next day, Ok-Ju waits for Choi to leave his house and breaks into his home. Inside Choi’s house, Ok-Ju finds some kinky items along with USBs with women’s professions or names to identify with. One of the USBs is named Ballerina, and Ok-Ju watches the content and sees a man making a video of Min-hee. Before leaving the house, Ok-Ju puts voice recorders in Choi’s house.

Ok-Ju sets a trap and fights back against Choi

In a flashback, we see that the reason Min-hee had difficulty during her ballet performance was that Choi and his crimes haunted her. In the present, Ok-Ju is angry as she discovers the drastic reason for Min-hee to take her life. At home, Ok-Ju listens to Choi talking to another man, asking to meet at a club called Heaven, as the girls there are not easy. The next day, Ok-Ju visits the club and makes contact with Choi. Choi takes Ok-Ju to a hotel that he calls special.

At the hotel, Ok-Ju is lying unconscious on the bed, and Choi opens his bag of kinky items as Ok-Ju is his next prey. Taking the video camera out, Choi starts recording Ok-Ju, and Choi unbuttons Ok-Ju’s pants. Unfortunately for Choi, Ok-Ju is pretending to be unconscious, and as Choi lets his guard down, Ok-Ju attacks. At first, Choi deflects Ok-Ju’s attacks. But Ok-Ju is relentless and manages to hurt Choi. Now, there is a huge scar on Choi’s face. However, as Ok-Ju is ready to run for her life, another man appears with a rifle and starts shooting. Ok-Ju doesn’t get hurt, and she escapes from him when another thug waits outside. Luckily, a girl in the adjacent door helps Ok-Ju, and they run away.

Can Ok-Ju Outmaneuver Her Enemies?

Wounded but not dead, Choi is tending to his wounds and wakes up in a hospital with his thug boss and underlings. The boss is unhappy with Choi’s kinky videos and gives Choi three days to bring Ok-Ju to him. Meanwhile, Ok-Ju and the girl who saved her are at a café. She says that Choi and his men call the girls slaves, and she has been praying for someone to save them. Humiliated and fuelled by anger, Choi asks his pharmacist friend Myung-shik to help kill Ok-Ju. At first, Myung-shik is not interested in killing anyone, but with the offer of money, Myung-shik is in.

On the other hand, Ok-Ju is preparing for her revenge and meets her boss from the bodyguard days and asks to give Ok-Ju guns that can’t be traced. Later, Ok-Ju meets an old couple out on the field who have a variety of firearms and weapons for Ok-Ju. As Choi washes his car to prepare for getting even with Ok-Ju, he finds a location tracker on the vehicle. Meanwhile, Ok-Ju goes out to the supermarket to get food for the girl and comes home to find her missing. Suspicious about it, Ok-Ju moves around the house carefully, and two men try to attack Ok-Ju. However, she jumps out the window and escapes.

Ballerina (2023) Movie Ending Explained
Another still from “Ballerina” (2023)

Ballerina (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Will Ok-Ju Achieve Vengeance or Fall Victim to Choi’s Cruelty?

At the horse track, Choi lies to his boss that he has killed Ok-Ju and buried her in the mountains. However, the boss continues to insult Choi and asks him to hand over his business to another thug. Even though Ok-Ju has escaped, the girl is captured. She is tortured by Choi and Myung-shik. Now, Ok-Ju is on the move and finds Choi’s men, killing them after they reveal where Choi is. In the process, Ok-Ju arrives at the horse track to get her revenge on Choi. But she is met with obstacles. At first, Ok-Ju finds the girl’s clothes lying around, triggering Ok-Ju further.

Fuelled by anger, Ok-Ju takes the elevator and kills three other thugs before reaching a floor where men are growing some plants. With one goal in mind, Ok-Ju demands the thugs to reveal where Choi is, but Choi’s boss comes out and asks to sit and talk. Not having the patience or interest to do so, Ok-Ju kills him. Unfortunately, Ok-Ju’s gun stops functioning properly. Subsequently, the thugs gang up on her. Ok-Ju fights pulls out other guns and goes on a killing spree. After killing off all the men, Ok-Ju finds Myung-shik in a vehicle with the girl. Having seen the girl, Ok-Ju points her gun at Myung-shik but is shot in hand by Choi. Now, Choi has the upper hand and is about to shoot at Ok-Ju when the girl aimlessly shoots in Choi’s direction, giving Ok-Ju a small window to shoot at Choi.

A Cycle of Violence or Justice Served? The Aftermath of Ok-Ju’s Revenge

Choi is now affected by bullet wounds and is brought to an isolated beach by Ok-Ju and the girl. Still, Choi does not understand why Ok-Ju has gone to such lengths to harm him. Ok-Ju reminds Choi of the ballerina (Min-hee). Despite the pitiful state, Choi continues to insult Min-hee, infuriating Ok-Ju, who promises to haunt him in hell and sets him on fire with a flamethrower.

In a flashback, we see Ok-Ju and Min-hee at the same beach, and Min-hee hopes she can come back as a fish in her next life. In the present, Ok-Ju leaves Choi on the beach burning and heads to his house to collect all the USBs to help free the other girls. As Ok-Ju collects the USBs, she finds a notebook with the times, names of clients, and dates, and she takes the book with her as well. The film ends with a ballerina underwater, the sun setting on the ocean’s horizon as Ok-Ju rides her bike into the sunset.

The film shows that Ok-Ju gets revenge for her friend Min-hee in the end, not only by destroying Choi but also by killing off many of the thugs. The notebook seems to hint at the fact that there are many more people like Choi lurking around. Ok-Ju is not finished yet, so she will probably kill off all of these people one by one. However, we don’t see much of Ok-Ju’s back story. As a revenge drama, the movie does its job with plenty of action and gore. The script is unidirectional in the sense that Min-hee kills herself because of Choi, and Choi runs some illegal businesses. Ok-Ju seeks revenge on behalf of her friend, but we don’t have a lot of backstory for any of the characters.

Read More: Joko Anwar’s Nightmares and Daydreams (Season 1) Netflix Review, Recap & Ending Explained – Are the Special People Humanity’s Last Hope?

Trailer:

Ballerina (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Ballerina (2023) Movie: Jeon Jong-seo, Kim Ji-hoon, Park Yu-rim
Ballerina (2023) Movie Genre: Action/Mystery & Thriller | Runtime: 1h 33m
Where to watch Ballerina

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