"Sympathy for Lady Vengeance takes Park Chan-Wook's unorthodox style to a greater level than all of his films combined."
- Mighty Peking Man
Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (2005)
AKA: Kind Ms. Geum-Ja; Keum-Ja, Lady Vengeance; The Kind-hearted Miss Kum-ja
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Writer: Park Chan-Wook
Cast: Lee Young-Ae, Choi Min-Sik, Kim Si-Hu, Kim Bu-Seon, Lee Seung-Sin, Ra Mi-Ran, Seo Young-Ju, Oh Dal-Su, Oh Gwang-Rok
Running Time: 112 min.
Plot: After being framed for the kidnapping and murder of a young child, Geum Ja (Lee Young Ae) is imprisoned for thirteen years. She serves her sentence with quiet dignity, but once she is released she sets in motion her master plan to seek a ruthless revenge on the man who sent her up.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Watching a Park Chan-Wook film is like listening to a new Radiohead album; at first, you're not exactly sure what to think, but your initial reaction to the production is positive. To simply put it, a Park Chan-Wook or Radiohead project may not instantly suck you in, but if you're willing to stick with it, you'll realize that every scene or note is of divine and artistic quality.
"Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" is Park Chan-Wook's third and final chapter in his "Revenge Trilogy" (with "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and "Old Boy" being the first and second respectfully). All three films are not connected story or character wise, but they do share the obvious revenge theme, as well as the same circle of known actors in Park's other films.
In "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance," (don't worry, no spoilers here) Kum-ja (Lee Young-ae) is charged with the kidnapping and murder of a boy and is sent to prison for 13 years. Because of her stunning good looks, the media feeds off her situation and in the process, nearly make her a celebrity (ie Natural Born Killers). Her bright, polka-dotted, fall dress becomes her image trademark. Even in prison, she makes a name for herself by being an inspiration or "saint" (complete with glowing face) to fellow cell mates because of her kind heart and inspirational speeches.
When Kum-ja is released, she becomes cold hearted and the good old revenge story follows with twists, turns, savage violence, and a truly bad ass gun that I wouldn't mind owning... that's all you need to know. ;)
"Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" takes Park Chan-Wook's unorthodox style to a greater level than all of his films combined. Lavish dream sequences, black & white shots, and even scratchy/aged film stock effects. Most notably is the surreal imagery that pops in and out. It's pure eye candy, even though some of it is strange as hell... (and this is a good thing!) The music, consisting of crisp orchestrated pieces, enhance the movie in every right way.
Lee Young-ae's performance is amazing. Think Brigitte Lin in "Chungking Express," only with more depth and color. She's not exactly youthful-looking (after all, she's supposed to play a thirty-something), but her charisma and diverse acting ability makes her appealing. Choi Min-Sik... need I say anything about that guy?
"Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" is definitely not Park Chan-Wook's best film (Mr. Vengeance is still my favorite!) but it certainly shows his continuing growth as a director whose work will probably be studied and imitated for years to come.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 8/10