Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

2002

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Critics Consensus

Though Park directs with stylistic flair, this revenge thriller is more excessively gruesome than thrilling.

54%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 57

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,074

Where to watch

Rate And Review

User image

Verified

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this movie

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of the movie? (optional)



  • You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Step 2 of 2

    How did you buy your ticket?

    Let's get your review verified.

    • Fandango

    • AMCTheatres.com or AMC AppNew

    • Cinemark Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Regal Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Theater box office or somewhere else

    You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this movie

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of the movie? (optional)

  • How did you buy your ticket?

    • Fandango

    • AMCTheatres.com or AMC AppNew

    • Cinemark Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Regal Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Theater box office or somewhere else

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Photos

Movie Info

A deaf-mute man, Ryu, works in a smelting factory and inhabits his own silent world, oblivious to the din both at work and in his downscale apartment building. He idolizes his sister, who urgently needs a kidney transplant, and when he's laid off and then tricked out of his savings by organ traffickers, his wacko girlfriend, Yeong-mi, suggests kidnapping his former boss's daughter to pay for his sister's operation. Yeong-mi sees it as social revenge. Ryu, initially scared of the consequences, finally agrees after seeing another laid-off worker attempt hara-kiri outside the boss's home. After kidnapping the boss's daughter, their whole plan starts to quickly unravel with horrible consequences.

Cast

Song Kang Ho
as Park Dong-jin
Lim Ji-Eun
as Ryu's Sister
Bae Doo-na
as Cha Yeong-mi
Im Ji-eun
as Ryu's Sister
Han Bo-bae
as Yu-sun
Se-dong Kim
as Chief of Staff
Jae-yeong Jeong
as Husband of Dong-jin's Ex-wife
Kan-hie Lee
as Park Dong-jin's Ex-wife
Kwang-rok Oh
as Anarchist
View All

Critic Reviews for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (26)

  • Park prizes craftsmanship over bargain-bin schlock. It's an odd testament to his spiritedness that, despite the coldblooded killing and trail of the dead, Mr. Vengeance feels warmly suffused with life.

    October 28, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It is a worthy start to a trilogy and to a director who is fast establishing himself as a new light in Asian cinema.

    September 23, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Promises to be a stylish, resonant plunge into the dark waters of despair and revenge but ends up amusing itself with ostentatious shocks.

    September 9, 2005 | Rating: 2/4
  • It's all a little ultra-cool for me. Shakespeare was right. Revenge is a dish best served ice-cold, not cool.

    September 8, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • So bloody, scatologically violent and consistently shocking, it seems to have no larger purpose than itself -- which is pretty grim.

    August 26, 2005 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • Somehow you'd be more won over by his anti-revenge case if he didn't seem to be having such a good time making it.

    August 25, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4

    Gene Seymour

    Newsday
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

  • Jun 23, 2014
    "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste... for blood!" Well, that was a lazy reference, but then again, the title is a little lazy, because the American title sounds a little cheesy, and the original Korean translates simply as "Vengeance is Mine". Now that's just trite, but I'm not going to say much, because even the [u]South[/u] Koreans can get pretty hardcore, as this film tells us. Well, in all fairness, the titular Mr. Vengeance is a deaf-mute, and those people are disturbing enough when they're not actively out for blood... or to dye their hair some kind of teal, or cyan, or something. One has to wonder if the lead Ryu character could simply reason his way out of things, rather than resort to violence, but he's going up against people in the organ black market, and you can't reason with those people any more than you can reason with the [u]North[/u] Koreans, so it's go time. If anyone can really bring out the grime in the less grimy part of Korea, it's Park Chan-wook, and here, he's going so far out with the grit that he can't fit it all in just one... overlong film. Make no mistake, this is a decent way to kick off the "Vengeance Trilogy" (Park may be creative with violence, but titles, not so much), but it kind of outstays its welcome, at least long enough to collect some other issues along the way. Refreshing moments in storytelling punctuate, and therefore call your attention towards the plot concept's tropes, which are disconcerting enough when they pick up common histrionics which aren't nearly as common as mere theatrical stylizations, yet nonetheless recurring enough to shake a sense of genuineness. Genuineness is something that ought to be kept consistent in order to sell a lot of aspects of this film, which is so grimy that it thrives on questionable characters, many of whom are well-intentioned and simply with their share of lowlights which are still drawn too thickly for you to be consistently compelled by the characters. The film gets carried away with questionable characterization, and just as carried away with disturbing content, for although the bleak storytelling and still-limited violent imagery are penetrating when used to inspired effect, when genuineness in the showcasing of grime slips, the gruesomeness simply disturbs. This is not the only questionable move on Park Chan-wook's part as director, because more than he disturbs, he distances with a certain overstylization that is predominantly characterized by superfluous, almost abstract meditations upon nothing, at the expense of substance. These questionable abuses of an artistic license must be common throughout the film, for the final product's final runtime of just about 130 minutes is simply not very reasonable, even when the film cuts through the filler and gets down to material that is still meandering, or at least feels as thought it is, due to a certain directorial coldness that is subtly biting at times, yet generally simply dulling. When the film hits, honestly, it hits pretty hard, so much so that the final product comes close to fulfilling its potential as a rewardingly intense and distinguished dramatic thriller, and yet, there's just a little too much ambition, and not exactly in the proper places, thus, the final product's momentum wears down, until reward value is lost. The film could have done so much more, but it still does enough to compel adequately, even though its story concept holds a little more potential than that. The narrative is a tad formulaic, and already a little thin when its interpretation doesn't drag its feet and make you all the more nervous with a touch too much grime, but it's still pretty intriguing, at least on paper, as a brutal portrait on going to great lengths for loved ones, and just as great lengths to exact vengeance, in addition to how vengeance can lead to yet more vengeance. The scripted interpretation of this intriguing concept by the surprisingly sizable writing team of Park Chan-wook, Lee Jae-sun, Lee Mu-yeong and Lee Yong-jong gets to be flimsy, although its issues aren't quite as great as those of Park's direction, being more consistent with cleverness than grime, particularly within questionable, but often effectively layered characterization that is truly brought to life by inspired performances. The acting is not simply the most consistently effective strength, but solid pretty much across the board, particularly with Song Kang-ho as a man of stature whose thirst for vengeance brings him to brutal lows, and with primary lead Shin Ha-kyun, who stands out in his capturing the awkward disposition and, if you will, charm of a deaf-mute of questionable intelligence and good intentions in order to immerse himself in the Ryu role that truly brings immersion value to the drama when Shin utilizes devastatingly intense emotional breakdowns and chilling dramatic layers which sell the crippling humanity and rising aggression of a man seeking revenge. It's difficult to fully describe the power that Shin delivers on enough times to more-or-less carry a lot of this film as a revelation, but not alone, for Park is not without his gripping directorial moment, at least with style. Park's efforts are often overstylized, particularly when Park gets near-abusive with his meditative artistic license, but more often than not, aesthetic value thrive on Park's flashy plays on elaborate cinematography, snappy editing and certain memorable visuals. Style is certainly there, and this is not simply reflected in the quality of the style, but in the style's prominence over substance, of which there is still enough to craft some solid highlights in this dramatic thriller which showcase realized moments in Park's gutsy attention to disturbing content and somber attention to quiet intensity that ranges from tense to piercing. I really wish that these moments were more consistent, as they are so rewarding, more so than the film on the whole, but their presence reflects a certain inspiration that never entirely abates in this both overblown and underdone dramatic thriller which ultimately grips decently about as often as it, if not more often than it loses you. In the end, more than there are conventions and histrionics there are questionable moments in characterization, and more than that there is some gratuitously gruesome storytelling that still doesn't thrill enough to prevent dragging and bland directorial cold spells from securing the final product as rather underwhelming, though not to where an intriguing story concept isn't done enough justice by some thoughtful scripting, solid acting, - especially from Song Kan-ho and Shin Ha-kyun - and highlights in Park Chan-wook's directorial style and dramatic thoughtfulness to make "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" a pretty compelling, sometimes engrossing thriller, in spite of much potential's being lost. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 01, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon13.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 04, 2013
    The first in Chan Wook Park's Vengeance trilogy is a well executed dramatic thriller that is superbly acted and directed. The film tells a great story to boot, which will surely entertain the viewer from start to finish. What I love about this film is that it differs very much from other revenge movies as it adds a touch of genuine human emotion to the chaos. This is a very violent film that is sure to disturb the viewer. However there is a purpose to the violence and it plays out almost like another character in the film. This is a well crafted film that is engaging from beginning to end, and you see hints of Park's brilliant work that would come out in his second vengeance film, Oldboy. This one on the other hand was getting the grooves right, and I find that with Oldboy Park would be much more confident with the subject at hand and make his masterwork. This is still a worthwhile film to watch and boasts a great story as well. The cast do a fine job with the material and each bring something wonderful to the screen. Along with its follow up Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is among the best revenge films ever made and is a haunting piece of work that if you love foreign cinema, you'll surely enjoy this picture. This is a near perfect film that has stood out above others and relies on basic elements to tell a convincing story, something that lacks in many American films. The film leaves room for improvement, luckily Park would find the perfect formula with Oldboy and he would craft a stellar second revenge outing. For what it is, this is a must see for film buffs and it sets the stage for the other two films that would follow this first picture.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Mar 02, 2013
    More visual gore than warranted content, "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" takes the revenge thriller to strange heights. Often beautiful yet frequently gruesome, "Sympathy" is a Korean film that tells the story of Ryu (Shin Ha-kyun) and his exploits after failing to donate a kidney to his sister. With a kidnap and many deaths later, the film reaches a rather unsatisfying ending that leaves more questions than answers, requiring multiple viewings. The visuals in "Sympathy" are sometimes astounding, however, which is the spoonful of sugar in this scenario. Even when a man's tendons are cut while standing in a river, a bird's eye view shot of the river stained with blood is one of the most gorgeous shots of the film. There is a slight humor to this film that also makes it bearable and though the deaths are not as stomach churning as most American revenge flicks, it still makes for an uneasy viewing. Chan Wook Park builds a strong beginning to his "Vengeance" trilogy and proves to have a keen eye for what makes good visuals, even in the most macabre of genres.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Movie & TV guides