Park Chan-Wook's Next Film Is The Comedy Thriller 'The Ax'

Later this month, acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (“Decision To Leave”) returns to the world of genre with the Max series “The Sympathizer,” which focuses on a Vietnamese double agent operating on U.S. soil. Now, his next feature has been reportedly revealed. And it’s one the director has been trying to put together for ages: an adaptation of the 1997 book “The Ax from author Donald E. Westlake —previously used as the basis of the Costa-Gavras movie “Le Couperet” released back in 2005— and takes place within the world of corporate downsizing.

Korean news outlet Nate (via The Film Stage) reports that “The Ax “is finally moving forward, after multiple delays, with Chan-wook selecting actors Lee Byung-hun (“Squid Games”) and Son Ye-jin to fill the lead roles in the comedic thriller. Production on “The Ax” is said to begin in the latter half of this year, fall or winter, meaning the movie could theoretically be ready to make the festival rounds in 2025 before being distributed to the public.

READ MORE: Park Chan-Wook Thinks It “Would Be Fun” To Direct A James Bond Film As He Talks His Love Of The Franchise

Here is the synopsis of the original Westlake novel from Amazon:

Burke Devore is a middle-aged manager at a paper company when the cost-cutting ax falls, and he is laid off. Eighteen months later and still unemployed, he puts a new spin on his job search — with agonizing care, Devore finds the seven men in the surrounding area who could take the job that rightfully should be his and systematically kills them. Transforming himself from mild-mannered middle manager to ruthless murderer, he discovers skills he never knew he had –, and that come to him far too easily.

The former casting pick Byung-hun is best known for the acclaimed serial killer thriller “I Saw The Devil,” “The Good, The Bad & The Weird,” Antoine Fuqua’s remake of “The Magnificent Seven,” and “Terminator Genisys.” He appeared in Netflix’s massive hit “Squid Games,” played Storm Shadow in two of Paramount’sG.I. Joe” movies, and previously worked with Chan-wook on the 2000 military DMZ thriller “Joint Security Area.”

Chan-wook, of course, is one of the biggest filmmaking names in the South Korean film industry alongside Oscar-winner Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite”). Over time, he’s helped grow the Korean thriller genre extremely popular across the globe thanks to credits such as “Old Boy,” “The Handmaiden,” “Sympathy For Mr. Venagence,” “Lady Vengence,” and the vampire pic “Thirst.

Park Chan-wook’s last film was the acclaimed 2022 romantic mystery “Decision To Leave.” His next effort, “The Sympathizer,” co-created with Canadian filmmaker Don McKellar and featuring Robert Downey Jr. in multiple roles, exclusively streams on Max starting on April 14.