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Refining the Tale: Understanding Hansel & Gretel Assassins in The Continental

by Lidia Lucovic

The John Wick spinoff, The Continental, introduces a cadre of lethal assassins to the franchise, among them being the enigmatic assassin twins known as Hansel and Gretel. While the initial John Wick movie primarily focused on the vengeance journey of its titular killer, played by Keanu Reeves, it tantalizingly hinted at a much larger and intricate world. The Continental, a pivotal location in the storyline, set the stage, and subsequent sequels delved into its global network of hotels, introduced rival assassins—often targeting John Wick—and delved into the politics and bureaucracy of the elusive High Table.

The films meticulously constructed a captivating criminal underworld that underpinned Wick’s relentless endeavors, and the prequel series, The Continental, marks the franchise’s inaugural significant spinoff. In one aspect, the show serves as a litmus test to gauge audience interest in the franchise postulated on the assumed demise of Wick in Chapter 4. On another note, it offers a compelling exploration of the hotel’s history, shedding light on the origins of its manager, a young Winston, portrayed by Colin Woodell. The prequel introduces its own set of new assassins in pursuit of Winston, among them the enigmatic figures of Hansel and Gretel.

The inaugural episode of The Continental unfolds with the audacious theft of a gold coin press from the prestigious hotel, orchestrated by the enforcer Frankie, portrayed by Ben Robson. In response, Cormac, the hotel’s manager, played by Mel Gibson, enlists Frankie’s estranged younger brother, Winston, in a bid to entice Frankie out of hiding. Frustrated by his henchman’s incapability to eliminate the threats, Cormac seeks assistance from Charon, played by Ayomide Adegun, to check on the availability of the twin assassins, Hansel and Gretel—referring to them disdainfully.

Based on their appearance in the initial episode, it appears that Hansel and Gretel may either be mute or selectively communicative. They both sport long, dark hair and don leather coats. Although the first episode offers minimal indication of their combat prowess, trailers for The Continental showcase their active involvement in diverse martial arts battles. Additionally, Gretel assumes the role of the duo’s sharpshooter, culminating in a poignant kill shot during the episode’s concluding moments.

Towards the conclusion of the inaugural episode, a frantic pursuit unfolds as Winston, Frankie, and Frankie’s wife, Yen (Nhung Kate), race to evade Cormac’s pursuing men and reach a waiting helicopter on a nearby rooftop. As they reach the rooftop and prepare to escape, Gretel begins a barrage of gunfire from an adjacent building. The assault leaves Yen, Winston, and even the pilot wounded. Realizing the urgency of the situation, Frankie decides to sacrifice himself to buy them time to flee. He leaps out of the chopper with the gold coin press, enabling Gretel to fatally shoot him.

In this heart-wrenching moment, witnessed by Winston and Yen as the helicopter departs, the episode’s conclusion strongly hints at their resolve for retribution against Cormac, Hansel, and Gretel. Winston, fueled by this tragedy, seeks out Frankie’s gunrunner friends, requesting a substantial arsenal of weapons—paying homage to both The Matrix and John Wick: Chapter 3. Frankie’s demise marks a significant turning point for Winston, altering his original plans of escaping the city with his brother to establish a new life elsewhere. Gretel’s act of killing Frankie shatters those plans, propelling Winston on a vengeful journey to dismantle Cormac’s operations and ultimately assume the role of the hotel’s new manager.

Hansel and Gretel are anticipated to serve as pivotal antagonists in Winston’s quest to dismantle the hotel’s regime, with Yen likely seeking personal retribution against Gretel. The character of Hansel is portrayed by the versatile actor and accomplished stuntman, Mark Musashi, boasting an extensive repertoire in the action genre. Noteworthy entries in his career include roles in Scott Adkins’ The Debt Collector, a voice role in the well-received remake of Resident Evil 2, and a part in Vin Diesel’s The Last Witch Hunter. Musashi’s stunt credits are even more extensive, encompassing appearances in a wide range of productions, from Avatar to Fear the Walking Dead, as well as contributions to notable video games like The Last of Us.

In contrast, The Continental cast Ukrainian model, actor, and contortionist Marina Mazepa as Gretel. Although she has fewer credits than her co-star Musashi, Mazepa has taken on compelling roles. Her introduction to the limelight was on season 14 of America’s Got Talent, followed by appearances on talent shows such as So You Think You Can Dance. Transitioning to the big screen, she performed as the physical embodiment of the limb-twisting villain Gabriel in Malignant and portrayed a more sympathetic monster in 2021’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, where she took on the role of Lisa Trevor. The character of Gretel in The Continental allows Mazepa to showcase her acting prowess without the constraints of heavy prosthetics, a departure from her previous experiences of acting under extensive makeup.

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