Assassins (M) - 104 minutes
Who was responsible for the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother, who at one time was destined to lead the secretive nation, and why?
Were the two young women convicted of his murder duped into supposedly pranking him when, instead, they were applying a deadly nerve agent known as VX, one drop of which can kill?
These questions are answered in a comprehensive and compelling documentary, Assassins.
It gives considerable background and context to what went down on 13th February, 2017 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The doco follows the trial of the two women, revealing their records of interview.
The Malaysian justice system is put under scrutiny and, suffice to say, it doesn’t fare well.
In fact, totalitarianism in general comes out of this looking decidedly ordinary.
Assassins includes insights from two key journalists, Malaysian Hadi Azmi (who followed the case closely) and the Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post, Anna Fifield, who freely admits to being obsessed with North Korea.
It also features interviews with the women’s families and friends, and their lawyers.
Importantly, the documentary points the finger at their “handlers” … and the handlers’ overseers.
It was the former who paid them to participate in supposedly funny pranks (several of which we witness), in the lead up to that fateful day, which was “sold” to them as yet another joke.
Their “mistake” appears to have been misplaced trust and no more.
Siti Aisyah was from a poor village family, who finished school at sixth grade and moved to Jakarta to work in a clothing factory, where she kept very long hours.
She married the owner, had a son at age 17, divorced (the son went to live with her ex-husband’s father) and headed to Kuala Lumpur, looking for a better job.
Like many female migrants she fell into sex work.
Doan Thi Huong studied accountancy at a private university in Hanoi, but couldn’t get a job in the field.
She ended up as a waitress at a bar, did some modelling and aspired to be a successful actress.
A stunning revelation contained in the doco about Kim Jong-Nam – the first-born son of Kim Jong-II – adds credence to why Kim Jong-Un had tried for some time to get rid of him.
That is in spite his half-brother reaching out to him to assure him he posed no threat.
There was a decade age difference between the pair and, of course, they had different mothers.
Assassins is a considered and detailed piece, directed by Ryan White (Ask Dr Ruth) that unpacks the murky truth.
The women seem to be mere pawns in a much more sinister and decidedly unseemly game, with power and politics at its core.
We are presented with a contemporary whodunnit, full of intrigue, mystery and subterfuge.
It is gripping and its content galling.
Assassins brings down the curtain on one of the most sordid affairs in recent history.
Rated M, it scores a 7½ out of 10.