Sympathy for Lady Vengeance Reviews
The film plays out at a blistering pace. Lee Geum-ja has spent 13 years in prison - continuing Oldboy's theme of incarceration, with Choi Min-Sik even appearing in this film - for a crime she did not commit. Her plan to get revenge is to play an angelic figure in her prison life, using her famous good looks and kindness - which earnt her the title 'Kind-Hearted Geum-Ja' -, as well as her ingenuity to get out of prison early. Once out, she then aims to exact her revenge on Mr. Baek, played by Min-Sik, who prayed on her childish vulnerability to make her confess to a murder he committed. The film is sleek and suave, with style and finesse to spare. Importantly, it treats its characters with respect, showing montages displaying the allies Geum-ja made in prison, along with their unique character traits and personalities. It goes for a less serious, bleak tone, instead opting for playfulness, at least until the finale. At last, we get a film in this trilogy with levity! The humour may still be dark, but this is in a more Tarantino-esque manner.
My only real issue with this film is the ending. Mr. Baek kidnapped children for ransom and then killed them, and their parents are brought together by Lee Geum-ja, as she wants to be morally cleansed after failing to stop the crimes of Baek. They decide to all torture and eventually murder Baek, who they now ironically have hostage - this continual shifting of power recurs throughout the trilogy -, instead of turning him over to a justice system that they see as being too lenient on such an evil man. This should be an incredibly fast-paced, erratic and cathartic scene, one which allows the parents to let out their pent up emotions. This would have been more in keeping with the film's pacing and playfulness. However, instead we get a slow and tense sequence. This is effective in its own way, as it feels real and visceral. However, it isn't quite in keeping with the film's tone or a satisfying enough revenge, as Baek was such a cruel, heartless character. It isn't the ending this film needed or deserved, and left me feeling slightly disappointed and frustrated.
This film is entertaining, funny, tense, and sad all at once, and is wholly original. The use of girl power also makes a nice change in a trilogy where men had previously been the dominant figures. It doesn't evoke quite the same levels of raw emotion as Oldboy, but does not taint Chan-Wook's overall vision. It is a worthy end to a trilogy which whilst good, is not overall quite the cinematic landmark it's made out to be. It is however, still well worth a watch. Chan-Wook is a talent who will be around for a while, and there's still something worthwhile in his lesser efforts.
Chan-Wook Park should probably know by now that what keeps a movie interesting can go much further than just the setting or the querkiness of its first half, but as the movie progresses everything makes much more sense and it is easier to actually give a crap about a revenge story that takes a while to actually know why the desire exists in the first place.
First the majority of the movie I felt nothing at all for the main lead. She was portrayed as a killer, and yet always claimed her innocence. She was part of a conspiracy that lead to the death of a child, yet claimed it was basically OK because it wasn't her fault. Then when we are in the small room with her, the families of the victims and the videos of the deaths of the children are played. It all changes.
We feel for her pain, but also empathize because she wants the families to have their vengeance too. Even though she wants them to actualize the vengeance for her, I could easily connect with this character and the families.
They symbolism of the white cake was wonderfully done.
I am left happy overall with the Vengeance trilogy, especially as the redemption of the main lead brings the vengeance to a halt. There is no more vengeance to be had. The families are whole and can move on knowing the proper killer is now 'removed', and she can now spend time with her daughter.
Saw this on 19/9/15
Apart from Old boy, none of the other films of Park Chan-wook have the ability to hold the interest of the audience, Lady Vengeance begins with promise, but just like the way in which revenge is portrayed in the film, the film too is shabby and pedestrian. Like the first Sympathy film, ie for Mr Vengeance, this one too is a pointless film. Compared to the first film, this one has more pace, bur a lack of purpose is evident. Song Kang-ho and Min-sik Choi have nothing to do in this film as well.
The style of 'Park Chan-wook' is in full force with the final chapter in his vengeance trilogy. The first 20 minutes or so contains a long look at main character 'Geum-ja' (Lee Young-ae), a scene that is moved on via a cell door being opened and an overdone (seemingly) movie version of the violent 'Geum-ja' has committed. More so with each film it's easy to see 'Park Chan-wook' in it. Arguably at times it's a little odd but with 'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance' it's more pronounced.
'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance' is once again different to other films whilst still keeping the flashes of flair and visceral violence. After serving 15 years in prison for a crime she did not commit 'Geum-ja' is intent on revenge but also redemption. The start of the film is pretty quick, introducing former cell mates who have all been helped by 'Geum-ja' at some point. Her plan for revenge has been 15 years in the making, it's a calculated plan - oppose to the quick attempt of 'Dae-su' in 'Oldboy' this has fermented and boiled over time.
The first half of the film is all about that build-up as she goes from friend to friend. It's clear before she went in she was a sweet girl earning the name 'Kind-Hearted Geum-ja' a name that she doesn't like. A naive girl who trusted the wrong person going in a laser focused stone faced women when she comes out.
Unlike the previous two films this isn't cut and dry for her quest for revenge. She practises her resolve on something else...let's leave it at that. When she gets what she wants her resolve is eased and decides she isn't the one to dole out the revenge. The third act is a long drawn out slow process full of disturbing video, screaming and bloodshed. With those involved the acts despite being questionable are visibly cathartic and needed to put somewhat of a close to things. It did lose me in parts the confusing start and middle section are a little underwhelming without developing much - and a portion of the last 15 minutes or so didn't really need to be there for me.
A good close to an excellent trilogy of films. I'd argue it's the weakest of the bunch but that's much of an insult given it's a pretty damn good film. Displaying the style and bloodshed present in the previous films and also giving something different. (it's nice seeing a conclusion that isn't a disaster for the main character.