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South Korea 2005
Directed by
Park Chan-wook
111 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

The concluding instalment of Park Chan-wook's "Revenge Trilogy" following on from 2002's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and 2003's Oldboy as the indicates gives the director's theme a female incarnation but one no less ruthll\ess than her predecessors.  .

This time the central character is Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yeong-ae), who just been released from prison where she has wrongly spent 13 years for murdering a child. Using a number of flashbacks, the film describes her elaborate plan to exact retribution on the real killer, Mr. Baek (Choi Min-Sik, who was so outstanding in the lead role in Oldboy) a psychopath who forced her to confess to the kidnapping and murder of a five year old boy (also teh catalytic event in Mr Vengeance), .

With an elaborate narrative which slides back and forth in time  is not easy to follow (and includes a trip to Australia), probably particularly for the Western viewer who has to depend on sub-title,and perhaps because the main character is more impassively calculating than the protagonists of the earlier films, Lady Vengeance is more cerebral than is predecessors, albeit no less bloody. Yet for all its graphic violence it features fine cinematography and a telling use of of classical music and is the most seductively sophisticated of the three films, not a little because of a narrative development which sees the theme transcend Geum-ja's individual agenda.  . Hopefully however, Park has exorcised his interest in the theme of vengeance. Aesthetically polished as the film is one can't help but feel more than a little grubby.




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