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Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjulhan Geomjasshi) - de Chan-Wook Park

Thursday 9 February 2006

After the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance in 2002 and Oldboy in 2003, Park Chan-Wook releases the final chapter of his trilogy on revenge: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. This time, Park shows revenge from the point of view of a woman. Lee Geum-Ja is only 19 years of age when she is imprisoned in another man’s place for the brutal murder of a 5 year old boy. For thirteen long years, the beautiful Geum-Ja plans a meticulous revenge against the man who put her where she is, her professor, Mr. Baek (who some will recognise as Park’s original Oldboy, Min-Sik Choi).

Once again, Park stops at nothing. And violence is omnipresent throughout the film. There is violence when Geum-Ja meets a young man and sleeps with him, violence in her attitude to others but especially there are the constant internal troubles and deep routed turmoil within the actress, Yeong-ai Lee. At the time when Park was conducting the casting sessions for the leading role, he had long considered hiring Du-Shim Ko – a much more famous South Korean actress. But we have to be thankful that he didn’t. Yeong-ai Lee is, of course, absolutely stunning, but above all she is a marvellous performer. She succeeds in conveying the frightening emotions that inhabit her character with brilliance. The spectator is left feeling uncomfortable, fidgety… The idea of revenge invades the mind of the viewer and sets him off into a reflective mood on retribution.

Above all, however, Park demonstrates that he is a superb director. The aesthetics of this movie are outstanding. The intelligence in his choice of colours and various shots is the demonstration that, regardless of the violence which he chooses to impose, Park is a true artist. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is an intelligent – and in more than one way, beautiful – way to close the trilogy: a look at hate, vengeance and redemption…

Chan-Wook Park is an incredibly gifted director with an eye for detail and a real desire to analyse the human mind. A masterpiece.


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