Friday, February 23, 2007

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Chinjeolhan geumjassi; Thriller/Drama, South Korea, 2005; D: Chan-wook Park, S: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Oh-dai Su, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon

Seoul. Geum-ja Lee spent 13 years in prison although she was innocent because the evil school professor Baek talked her into kidnapping a 5-year old boy. But when Baek killed the boy, he kidnapped her daughter and forced her to take the responsibility for the murder in frnt of the police. Fearing for her daughter's life, Geum-ja accepted. After being released from prison, Geum-ja gets a job at a bakery and finds her daughter Jenny in Australia, where she was adopted by an custom family. Jenny comes with her to Seoul. When Baek tries to kidnap her again, Geum-ja kills his henchmen and captures him inside an old school. She finds all the parents whose children were killed by Baek and rounds them up in the school. One by one, the parents injure and eventually kill Baek. At the end, Geum-ja says to her daughter that she would love to be as pure as her.

"Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" is the last film from Park's trilogy about revenge, but since his previous work "Oldboy" pretty much said everything there is to be said on that issue, this addition seems somewhat unnecessary and has too much plot devices. Although less brutal than "Oldboy", "Lady Vengeance" is also a powerfully directed film with style, full of nice ideas (in one scene in the prison, after she forced an fragile inmate to oral sex, the "fat witch" slips and falls on the floor) and dialogues ("I thought I was dying because I couldn't be with my love. Turns out I was just suffering chronic kidney failure") that show how wrong people can live their lives, full of hate and evil. Even the bizarre finale in which the parents become executioners shows how even the most normal people have an final point of patience after which even they loose their patience and become evil. Like some leitmotif, the theme of normal people who just wanted to live normal lives who were disrupted by revenge is ever present trough this trilogy, that managed to present the dark side of the human heart in a skillful way.


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