Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chin-jeol-han Geum-ja-ssi)

| Sunday, April 3, 2011
Korean Poster
Korean Poster Alt.
US Poster Alt.
2005R115 minutes
Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Toni Barry, Anne Cordiner, Su-hee Go, Hye-jeong Kang, Bu-seon Kim, Byeong-ok Kim, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon, Seung-Shin Lee, Seung-wan Ryoo, Ha-kyun Shin, Kang-ho Song, Ji-tae Yu, Jin-seo Yun
Chan-wook Park
Foreign, Foreign Thrillers, Korea, Korean Language
This movie is:
Violent, Emotional, Mind-bending

The final installment of director Chan Wook Park's revenge trilogy (preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy) chronicles the efforts of Lee Geum-ja (Yeong-ae Lee) -- known to her cellmates as "the kind Ms. Geum-ja" -- to track down the man who betrayed her. Taking the rap for her accomplice and incarcerated for 13 long years, she plots an elaborate retribution with help from her fellow inmates.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is the final part to what acclaimed director, Park Chan-Wook, later acknowledged as the "revenge trilogy." Of the trio (which includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy), Lady Vengeance displays the greatest depth, development, and analysis into the themes that he explored in the first two films. Mr. Vengeance relies heavily on tension and grittiness to run its course; Old Boy is a noir piece with stylized execution and a playful cleverness; Lady Vengeance, however, is a far departure from its predecessors as a meta-ethical exploration in the context of morality that is a philosophical challenge to cineastes and palatable to the average viewer.

Vengeance can be beautiful.

Lady is the strongest piece in terms of depth into Park's theme of vengeance as conscience in morality. In an interview, he states that "...the vengeances represented in my movies are not actual vengeances. They are merely the transferring of a guilty would be more accurate to see my movies as ones stressing morality, with guilty consciences as the core subject matter." He makes statements about the lack of outlets for an ever-growing rage in people in an increasingly restrictive society. Unlike the first two films where the narrative progresses in intricate plots, this one throws our own morality into our faces in a very subtle way. It forces us to think about the difficult questions that are raised on two levels: the first, what would you do in the characters' situations and more importantly, how does one moral code stand up in a morally impossible situation?

Yes the movie is mind bending.

The most impressive move that Park makes in Lady is that he does not provide an answer, but simply challenges us to consider first the question's gravity. This film works both as a movie telling an interesting story and one that raises important questions in an ever-complex world where the line between self and other continuously gets muddled.

Love comes in all forms.
Multiple story lines will keep you grasped until the end.

Though not for the faint of heart. But then, if you've watched the two preceding films in the director's revenge trilogy that should come as no surprise. I enjoyed this a bit more than Mr. Vengeance and found the story more accessible but Oldboy still stands out. It's not without some problems, though. The plot is definitely not linear and requires close attention; some side plots go NOWHERE. However, you will be affected and engrossed, no doubt. The ending is one of the most intense and visceral movie going experiences I've had. Bloody, violent, disturbing.


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