Reviewed by Humby:

SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE confirms Chan-wook Park as one of the best directors making movies today. It is the final installment in Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy” (the first two being SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and OLDBOY) and it is as good, if not better, than its predecessors. The basic story is simple… Guem-ja Lee is wrongly imprisoned for the kidnapping and murder of a five-year-old boy. Thirteen years later, she is released and uses the ‘friends’ that she made inside to carry out her plan of vengeance.

One of the things I love about Park is he presents violence in a realistic manner. There are always consequences to the violence in his films. It is not easy to kill someone, and it is never pretty or clean either. He has formed a reputation for disturbing and sometimes grotesque scenes in his films and this movie has some of those. There is not as much violence, but the events that unfold are maybe more disturbing than in his prior work.
Park re-teams with actress Yeong-ae Lee, who previously appeared in the excellent drama JOINT SECURITY AREA in 2000. She is great in this film. Hell bent on vengeance, she will stop at nothing to carry out her plan. I won’t get into the obstacles that she faces along the way, but they are captivating and understandable. While this is a movie about vengeance, it is a far cry dramatically from movies like KILL BILL, or DEATH WISH.

The outstanding cinematography is from Jeong-hun Jeong, who also worked with Park on OLDBOY. The look they created here is far more beautiful and haunting. Themes are presented through the use of stark whites, black and some breathtakingly vibrant colors. This is, hands down, one of the best-shot movies of the year.
The brings me to the other stand out of LADY VENGEANCE… Chan-wook Park. This man knows how to direct. Movement and composition is handled with the ease of a master. It is elaborate, but does not draw attention to itself. His ‘tricks’ are used to tell the story and to make it more effective. While I have been a fan of Park’s other films, it was not until this one that I really put him up there among the greats. He is a talent that people need to discover.

I hope that he never makes an American film. I saw what America did to directors like John Woo, and I would rather Park have the freedom in Korea that he would never be afforded or allowed here. As long as he keeps making films, I will keep watching.


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