Lady Vengeance (2005)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
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Overall Rating 79%
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Ranked #1,431
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Wrongfully accused of child abduction and murder, the angelic-faced single mother, Lee Geum-ja, is released from prison after thirteen long years. Hell-bent on taking her sweet revenge on the man behind the hideous crime, Lee hatches an infallible plan of retribution with the help of her cellmates; however, planning is easier than doing. Now--as Lee Geum-ja struggles to make amends with the daughter she was forced to give up--at the same time, she finds herself torn between her insatiable thirst for vengeance and the desperate need for atonement. Can she have both? --IMDb
Yeong-ae Lee
Yeong-ae Lee
Choi Min-sik
Choi Min-sik
Shi-hoo Kim
Shi-hoo Kim
Yea-young Kwon
Yea-young Kwon
Tony Barry
Tony Barry
Review by Chad
Added: October 10, 2006
With Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, director Chan-Wook Park has finished off his revenge trilogy after previously bringing us the classics known as Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy. This trilogy, for those not in the know, is not a trilogy in the Star Wars sense; the storylines found in these movies aren't connected in any way, but they do share a common theme: that being revenge and how it affects both the target of this aggression as well as the one serving the vengeance. With Lady, Park has finished the trilogy in spectacular fashion - this may not be the best of the trio, but it's easily the most stylish and it also features the most in-depth storyline.

Before getting into the obligatory synopsis, I should point out that I'm going to be very brief as to what all happened and why these events occurred. This is one of those movies where the less you know before going in, the better, and for me to type up the storyline beyond the ten-minute mark of the film would almost be criminal.

The woman seeking revenge is Geum-Ja Lee (Yeong-Ae Lee), and the reason she is out for said revenge revolves around a man who helped her during a kidnapping gone terribly wrong. This was supposed to be an "easy" job - the plan was for them to kidnap the kid, demand a ransom, get paid, return the kid, and everyone goes to bed happy. When the child ends up dead, the police come knocking and Lee confesses to the entire thing and claims that she was solely responsible. She spends thirteen years in jail while this guy gets off without so much as a slap on the wrist, and thanks to her being a model prisoner (even receiving the nickname of "Kind-Hearted Ms. Geum-Ja"), she is let out on parole early. At this point, however, she decides to take a little revenge on her former accomplice for reasons which will be explained as the movie progresses.

I said that revealing anything beyond the ten-minute mark would be criminal, and I meant it: all of the above occurs within the opening scenes of the film, and the viewer is then left with about a hundred minutes of storyline to learn the reasons behind everything, the histories of the characters involved, and of course, the revenge itself. Indeed, this one isn't quite as action-packed as the first two films in the trilogy, but instead, the main emphasis is on fleshing out the characters and telling a story. That's not to say that there isn't any action at all, but those of you expecting something similar to Oldgirl may be disappointed. Personally, I felt that this approach to the story worked out wonderfully, as you really feel for all of the characters involved by the midway point of the film, and then, when everything starts to come together, it's much more intense as a result.

The story is told in a disjointed fashion, with scenes being shown out of order and featuring a few pieces of the puzzle which require the viewer to think about what he or she has just witnessed instead of using the Hollywood "Hey, here's what just happened!" approach. This never comes across as pretentious or done simply because it's the cool thing to do these days, as this style of telling a story perfectly compliments the actual story itself. The film also includes a lot of symbolism and colors that really add to the story in more than just the visuals department (watch, for example, as to how white and red are used throughout and what they mean to the characters). This aspect of the film is separate from the pretty visuals side of things, but that's not to say that this film is lacking in that regard; no, this is Park we're talking about, a man who has an uncanny eye for detail and knows exactly how to shoot a scene for maximum effect. Who else could shoot a picnic scene, and wind up with a segment in which the characters walking to their destination is just as enjoyable as the events that occur when they reach said destination?

A quote on the DVD cover claims that this is "the best revenge thriller since Kill Bill", and while I highly enjoyed Tarantino's work on that release, there's simply no comparison between the two movies: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance makes Kill Bill look like nothing more than a forgettable made-for-TV movie. 10/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 10/19/2006, 10:56 PM
Chan-Wook Park can do no wrong, 10/10.
Cryptorchild #2: Cryptorchild - added 05/25/2007, 09:02 PM
Amazing movie, loved everything about it. I thought the imagery was perfect. Fantastic movie.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #3: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 05/26/2007, 01:14 AM
I need to see the version that fades to black & white as Chan-Wook Park prefers- "Park intended the colour fade to illustrate Lee Geum-ja's progressively colder demeanor and her attempts to reach a stage of purity as she exacted her revenge."
danimigra #4: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 05:18 PM
i cant give a 10/10 after watch OLD BOY and Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, touse are thousand times better... i will give a 8/10.. thats fine anyway.
I kick ass for the Lord! #5: I kick ass for the Lord! - added 07/11/2008, 03:17 PM
I don't want to give away anything from the movie but the climax of this film had me chuckling for days. Chan-Wook is truly amazing and I can't wait for Thirst (Evil Live)!
I kick ass for the Lord! #6: I kick ass for the Lord! - added 07/11/2008, 03:20 PM
Oh yeah, 10/10 (sorry, new to the site).
Lucid Dreams #7: Lucid Dreams - added 07/06/2010, 06:04 PM
Nicely done. I have to admit the first hour was good, but I felt it lacked a bit. However, the last 30 minutes was perfect and I enjoyed every minute of it. 9/10
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