Korean crime-action webtoon “Knuckle Girl” is being adapted as an original movie for Amazon’s Prime Video. It is structured as a Korea-Japan co-venture.
The webtoon revolves around a promising woman boxer, Ran, who takes on school bullies and participates in illegal bouts. When her sister is kidnapped by a criminal gang, Ran must risk her own life, by breaking into the underworld wearing brass knuckledusters, rather than boxing gloves.
The movie is directed by Chang, the Korean director who goes by a single name and whose 2014 movie “The Target” debuted in the Midnight screening section at Cannes. Writing credits go to Yoo Gap-yeol, whose “Emergency Declaration” also debuted in Cannes, in 2021, and Jeong Byeong-sik (“The Villain”) who wrote the adaptation.
Despite the Korean pedigree, the movie stars Japanese female actor Miyoshi Iyaka, who achieved fame with 2010 film “Confession” and stars in both seasons of Netflix’s Japanese dystopian thriller “Alice in Borderland.” She is reported to have endured six months of fight training for the role.
“This is a global project involving a writer, Japanese actors, and a global OTT, and the thrilling story, sensuous directing, and passionate performances of the actors will allow you to experience a wealth of fun that is different from webtoons,” said Chang.
Webtoons – digital comics which usually scroll vertically and are optimized for viewing on smart phones – have become a plentiful source of IP for the Korean film and TV industries.
“Knuckle Girl,” created by Jeong Sang Young, was first published in 2014 on KakaoPage, a webtoon platform owned by Kakao Entertainment, part of Korean entertainment-tech giant Kakao. It was later released on Kakao Entertainment’s Japanese cartoon site Piccoma.
Kakao, which has its roots in internet browsers, has since expanded through acquisition and organic growth to become Korea’s dominant messaging service and through its Melon subsidiary, Korea’s dominant music streamer. Powered by the popularity of Korean entertainment and pop culture, Kakao Entertainment unit has diversified into talent representation and film and TV production.
Armed with an influx of finance from Saudi Arabia, Kakao this year defeated BTS-backer Hybe Corp. in a $1 billion battle to take over leading K-pop agency SM Entertainment.
Kakao Entertainment’s Kross Pictures is the producer of “Knuckle Girl.”
“This is the first live-action adaptation of an original webcomic and our first Japanese-Korean collaboration,” said an Amazon Studios spokesman.
The movie will premiere no Prime Video on November 2.