Sympathy for Lady Vengeance Reviews
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.
It's probably not fair to compare Lady Vengeance to the other two movies. How could this ever live up to those movies? Still, I just found myself sitting and watching this movie and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was expecting many twists and turns in the plot, but Lady Vengeance is the most straightforward plot of the trilogy. This doesn't really help when the plot is VERY similar to Kill Bill. I didn't really care for the Ms. Geum-ja character either. I didn't really sympathize for her (which I understand wasn't necessarily what Park Chan-wook was going for) so I didn't really care if she ended up with her daughter again or got her vengeance (in fact, I expected it to be revealed she was more sinister and devious than she was letting on).
It's just a weak plot, even if on the surface it has all the makeup that made Oldboy so good.
I loved the white tofu in the beginning that she refused because she knew she was going to sin and the white cake that looked like tofu at the end, when she put her face in it to show what i think means she wants to be good. Also after she completes her plan she sees the ghost of the child she helped kidnapped to see if she has achieved redemption but the gag on the child ends up in her mouth showing that she still doesn't feel redeemed or deserving of forgiveness. the birthday cake for all the dead children was very moving. is she an angel or a devil??? (2 views)
As with the previous two films, Chen-wook weaves a fascinatingly puzzle of a plot, slowly revealing Geum-ja's plan.
Stunningly shot. Great cast. A cleverly grim, but all off screen, comeuppance.
Quite the trilogy. Why bother with a remake, Hollywood? Oh I forgot, you can't read.
He always has me legitimizing the wrong doing. And if persuasion is the highest form of story telling, Park is a master.