Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Monday, January 23, 2006

Movie Review; "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance" (2005)

The best poster I've seen so far.

Ok, if you have been following this site for a while, (which, If you do, I'm sure has minimized these past days due to lack of interesting posts), you have probably heard more than your desired dose of Korean movie news. In fact, I have been focusing a lot on one particular movie. The last part of Chan Wook Park's revenge trilogy, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. Well I have been following this movie since it first started shooting and even posted online some pictures of the shoot while it was still going on. A lot of the post production shots are in my myspace page.I also used to have hte poster above as my masthead image. So yeah sure, I was looking forward to the movie.

If there was any authority in the eastern hemisphere on the theme of revenge and the futility and emptiness of it, it would be Director Park and his Revenge trilogy would be his thesis. Sympathy For Lady Vengeance would be the last chapter of that thesis.

Geum Ja (Lee Young Ae) is a woman scorned. She spent the last 13 yars in prison, carefully planning her revenge on the man (Oldboy's Choi Min Shik) responsible for putting her there. She loses her life within her walls of her cell by doing random acts of kindness towards her fellow inmates alternated with plots of vengeance towards those who she deems deserving. Therefore, she becomes a legend within the system as both "The Witch" and "Kindly Geum Ja".

Once she finishes her sentence, she is hell bent on her plot of revenge, calling back favors given to ex inmates in the outside, who, more than willingly provide their services to be a part of her plot of vengeance.

I cannot avoid comparing this movie to the other two predecessors Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and OldBoy. To say the least, this is the more visually stylized of the three. It is also the more 'feminine' part of the trilogy. Lady Vengeance makes use of very sophisticated shots and fance fade ins that were nowhere found in Mr. Vengeance and are still in development in OldBoy. The violence is a little toned down in lady Vengeance but the shock factor is still as fresh as in the previous two.

As an individual film, the movie boasts of a great storyline with a very morally ambiguous trail. The moral vaccum provided by Park's films is actually a great avenue for one to be able contemplate on the topic of revenge and weigh the consequences of a hypothetical attempt of such. But Lady Vengeance treads through the premise of a more, for a lack of a better term, "fulfilling" form of vengeance. Unlike in Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy, the men seeking vengeance are hellbent on making the offender suffer and pay for whatever bad was done to them. Geum Ja seeks vengeance to right previous wrongs rather than to satisfy the animal craving for justice ravaging her for 13 years. Which is probably the reason why Park chose to get a 'female' lead. Her plans are more rational and not as linear as the previous two. Also, she is not preoccupied by her plans for getting even. She also finds tim to seek a missing child, one she had lost before she got locked up, and plans on a peaceful revenge-free future.

The best part of the movie is the climactic application of the revenge sought. Very unorthodox, creative and very, uh, democratic.

Agreat end to a great trilogy. Chan Wook Park has placed himself in the ranks of one of the best directors in world cinema.

There I've said my piece.

watch me pop the balloon

Rocketboy's Rating; *****(5 out of 5)


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