After thirteen and half years in prison for kidnapping and murdering the boy Park Won Mo, Lee Geum Ja is released and tries to fix her life. She finds a job in a bakery; she orders the manufacturing of a special weapon; she reunites with her daughter, who was adopted by an Australian family; and she plots revenge against the real killer of Won Mo, the English teacher Mr. Baek. With the support of former inmates from prison, Geum Ja seeks an unattained redemption with her vengeance.
Cast & Credits
Though it’s far less bloody than the first two, Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance should be held in just as high regard. It outclasses Tarantino’s Kill Bill as a revenge story with far deeper turmoil.
Filmed in an almost grotesque fairytale manner, it is about the struggle between a saintly pale faced damsel in distress and a cunning witch donned in red eye make-up and classy heels. Stranger yet, is that both characters are one and the same - Ms Geum Ja (Lee Young-Ae) who seeks vengeance for crimes committed against her.
This film has the right blend of humour, love, family elements yet maintains an incredibly intense dark tone throughout. The surreal shots, the use of music and the progression of the story are nearly flawless.
I would happily use the words 'compelling' 'heart wrenching' and 'beautiful' to describe Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. However, to this description you must also add 'chilling' and 'horrifically sinister' to fully appreciate the depth and complexity of this film. Lady Vengeance provides the audiences with intense off-camera violence and in this film it is the aftermath of the violence that is most effective. It’s not the violence that bothers the viewer but the situation in which it arises.
This offering by this amazing director is not for those who can only stomach physical brutality but that of the emotional type, thus making opinions surrounding this film as divisive as its predecessors. Like most pieces of art, it really depends on one’s taste. But one thing is for sure; whether you’re swayed by the deeper emotional content or the hard to ignore visual elements, there is at least one thing you’ll love about this film.
Or if not, you won’t be able to forget it for a variety of reasons.
I felt the other Vengeance series were far more well thought out and far more emotionally stifling than this one. Furthermore, the fantastical element of this particular series was in some ways daunting yet also not my cup of tea as it made the film not settle as darkly for me as it could have.
Also, unlike, the other two movies, it instilled a burning curiosity in me but did not deliver. In the end, the focus was so much on Lee Young Ae's character and none on the villain rendering me a little disinterested. When it came to the other two movies, the villains final revelation really helped shape the climax of the movie and it's why these movies stuck with us. However, in this case, the villain remains a shadowy figure that we never truly hear from. Admittedly, this movie is a narrative so it hinders any other perspective other than the narrators.
As this is a narrative, you may find it quite tedious. It begins with Lee Young Ae's character being charged with the murder of a young boy. She's beautiful and not your typical murderer hence you now start to wonder, did she really do it? This is a little reminiscent of old boy in that the perspective is one where everything leads to a boiling point as you slowly unravel the story. Anything more would be a spoiler.
Ultimately though, you have a good guy and a bad guy and nothing quite philosophically daunting as the other two movies. Furthermore, different sub plots distract from the meat of the plot. Halfway through, you may actually forget about the revenge story as different sub plots vie for your attention. Furthermore, in typical Park Chan Wook fashion, there will be some dragging before you get to the final destination which in typical PCW fashion will also include more dragging. Overall, it's a good film, a little disjointed and fantastical for my tastes but not a bad ending.