Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

To give it it’s proper title. For some reason all the marketing/press seems to be for Lady Vengeance, but that’s not what the film’ll tell you (or the BBFC card for that). Not the only naming confusion involved here. Director Park Chan-wook has gone the way of Ziyi Zhang in re-ordering his name to the western fashion. So, does this qualify as the final part of Park Chan-wook‘s Vengeance Trilogy if it was actually a film by Chan-wook Park? Of course it does.

Guem-ja has spent 13 years in prison for the murder of a young boy. In that time she has found god and gone from vilified in the media to regarded as an angel. When she is released, however, her thoughts are far from angelic. Erm, and that’s about it. Without giving away too much, or spoiling any of the twists, that’s the plot.

Of course there’s more. And, I’ll let you read some of it between the lines. What we basically have here is Kill Bill without the tricksy visual stylings and shorter. Don’t get me wrong, the first part of KB is great and if QT hadn’t pulled out all the stops it would not have left me gagging for the deeply disappointing second part. Although, maybe I wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed. Not, to make you think that this is visually dull, it is starkly framed with black and red motifs and a constant snowstorm background (does it snow in Seoul? You learn something every day). And, it’s distillation the similar plot serves to just highlight flab the emotional emptiness at the heart of KB – a missed opportunity, if this is anything to go by.

The title role is taken by – unknown to me – Yeong-ae Lee. Let me get this out of the way first, she is absolutely gorgeous. This is necessary for a part like this. She must be alluring, and a little scary. And, for someone that doesn’t really have much of the dialogue she certainly holds your attention throughout. Intriguing, and completely believable as we begin understand her motivations.

At turns emotionally draining and frankly blackly hilarious.

Oldboy‘s Min-sik Choi supports spectacularly as the bad guy. Managing to pull off malevolence through being so…ordinary.

The first two films should be seen by all. This fits as yet another styled tale with the same themes at it’s heart, explored in a completely different tone (and set of colours). It just doesn’t quite hit the heights of the other two. But, not-quite-as-good Park is still better than most other folks bestest.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

15 February 2006 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Film

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