Lady Vengeance


Reviewed by: Chris Brooks

Lady Vengeance
"Intelligent, and unsettling."

Vengeance has been a central topic in films pretty much since the beginning of film history. However few, if any at all, have dedicated as much time to exploring the subject as the South Korean director, Park Chan-Wook . Chan-Wook is generally considered a bit of a maverick and seems to have quite a thing for the topic of revenge, with Sympathy For Lady Vengeance the third in his vengeance trilogy following Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (2002) and Old Boy (2004_.

Lee Yeong-ae plays Geum-Ja, a woman in her mid-30s who has just been released from a 13-year jail term for the kidnap and murder of a small kid. It quickly becomes apparent that Geum-ja isn't the guilty culprit and, despite her confession to the police, the real guilty party is a teacher called Mr. Baek - played by Choi Min-sik, the star of Old Boy. With the help of a women she met in prison Geum-Ja puts into a operation her plan for vengeance.

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Chan-Wook's previous film, Old Boy, was a visual, visceral tour de force and rather sensibly, he doesn't attempt to make Sympathy for Lady Vengeance in the same vein. The film has a steadily build up. One by one Geum-J's cellmates are introduced, and in each case we are shown her she helped them, for example, by donating a kidney - not the first time this topic has come up in Park's films. When the time comes each of these women is called on to play a part in the Guem-ja's master plan.

Lee Yeong-ae, previously starred in Chan-Wook's Joint Security Area, and follows in the growing tradition of vengeful women, such as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Luckily, Park doesn't lead her down the same bloody path of a Kill Bill, preferring to throw in some interesting twists. There is a consideration of the ethics of vengeance but don't let this put you off as Park stylishly manoeuvres the film into more familiar territory with some well-worked camera shots which show why the suggestion of violence is often more effective than the depiction of gore..

The film runs out of steam slightly in the last 10 minutes, however, this is a small criticism as the rest is both intelligent, and unsettling, and Park will surely receive much credit not only for the film but also for the fact he has being able to make three films about the same theme that are completely different.

Reviewed on: 01 Mar 2006
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Lady Vengeance packshot
Revenge is ugly and intricately planned in South Korea. Now out to own as part of the Vengeance Trilogy box set.
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Read more Lady Vengeance reviews:

Scott Macdonald ****1/2
Anton Bitel ****
Paul Griffiths ****
Richard Mellor ***1/2

Director: Park Chan-wook

Writer: Seo-Gyeong Jeong, Chan-wook Park

Starring: Lee Yeong-ae, Choi Min-sik, Kim Si-hu, Kwon Yea-young, Oh Dai-su, Lee Seung-shin, Kim Bu-sun, Kim Byeong-ok, Choi Sung-yoon, Nam Il-woo, Cha Soon-bae, Kim Ik-tae, Lee Young-mi, Kim Jin-goo, Seo Young-joo, Koh Soo-hee, Ra Mi-ran, Song Kang-ho

Year: 2005

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea


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The Vengeance Trilogy