Starring: Lee Young-Ae, Choi Min-Sik, Kim Si-Hu
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Studio: CJ Entertainment
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About This DVD
Director Park Chan-wook finally arrived at the end of his exploration of the revenge theme in his latest film, "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjolhan Kumjassi)." It serves well for the conclusion of his trilogy, but somehow falls short of satisfying moviegoers who expect absurd and complex confrontation between main characters, as shown in his previous two works.
The movie is a story about a woman who tries to take revenge on a man who puts her in a miserable situation. And the director stylishly sheds light on the importance of the atonement for sins and the salvation of the soul, but the message is delivered with a bit of a biblical feel. In the movie, Kum-ja (played by Lee Young-ae) is falsely charged with the kidnapping and murder of a boy and is put behind bars for 13 years.
As its Korean title suggests, which is roughly translated as "Kind Miss Kum-ja," she seems to be completely enlightened while serving the sentence. In jail, she lives like an angel to help her inmates. The reality is that she has long prepared for the deadly revenge on the actual murderer of the boy while she is serving the sentence.
Two thirds of the story shows how she gets involved in the murder case and how she prepares for the revenge, which successfully builds tension and is sometimes mixed with the black humor that the director often uses in his films.
Kum-ja’s multiple personality is brilliantly portrayed, thanks to Lee’s great performance, who has previously played only typical feminine characters, such as Jang-gum from the historical television drama "Jewel in the Palace (Daejanggeum)."
The mixed emotions of her prolonged hatred and grievousness help the director effectively get to the point that he wants to make as the conclusion of the trilogy.
When she completes her revenge, she puts her face on a white cake in the shape of "tubu," or a firm bean curd, as people here first eat a piece of tufu as a symbolic gesture of being purified from their all sins _ like the white color of tubu _ when they are discharged from jail. She now realizes that revenge can’t be the end of the atonement for her sins.
The main characters from the two previous revenge film, "Poksunun Naui Kot (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance)'' in 2002 and "Old Boy" in 2003, make cameo appearances in the film but their appearances also look a bit confusing or disturbing as they don’t have any direct connection to the film.
Lady Vengeance lucidly jumps back and forth in time to lay down the ingredients that go into Geum-Ja’s master plan. Making notable contributions are her former fellow inmates. In prison, she was known as “Kind-Hearted Geum-Ja,” and made many colorful allies through her generosity. Kim Yang-Hee (Seo Young-Joo) was a prostitute who had a prison affair with her. When Woo Si-Young (Kim Bu-Seon, A Moment to Remember), a vicious bank robber, was dying, Geum-Ja saved her life by giving her a kidney. Oh Su-Hee (Ra Mi-Ran) was an adulteress forced into sexual slavery by a brutal woman who killed her husband and his mistress and then ate them. Geum-Ja delicately intervened and rescued Oh.
While setting up her machinations, Geum-Ja gets a job at a bakery whose owner, Mr. Chang (Oh Dal-Su), was once inspired by Geum-Ja’s astounding pastry skills when he observed her in prison. His nineteen-year old assistant, Geun-Sik (Kim Shee-Hoo), is attracted to Geum-Ja for other reasons. Then the reintroduction of Geum-Ja’s thirteen-year old daughter, Jenny (Kwon Yea-Young), into her life creates further delays in her plans.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is the flashiest, funniest, and most baroque of the “Vengeance Trilogy.” It is also the most simpleminded and, despite that, eventually the most muddled. For the most part, Park keeps the genre action moving at a rapid-fire pace while tossing in everything from slapstick to extremely dark comedy to surrealistic moments like Geun-Ja’s face literally glowing or her dream about Mr. Baek with the body of a dog. The music by Cho Young-Wuk and Vivaldi is very effective at sustaining the enthralling and playful mood.
If the film continued in this manner, Park would have ended up with something perhaps too similar to Oldboy or Kill Bill. So when the penultimate moment with Mr. Baek comes, Park takes a risky left turn, and the final third of Lady Vengeance goes into unexplored territory, something of a critique of capital punishment, a black comedy Dead Man. This is more admirable in theory than execution, but then Park’s aspirations go even further, which is when he mars his film with a pretentious ending aimed at the spiritual.
|Audio Format:||DD 5.1, DD 2.0, DTS 5.1|
|Video Format:||Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)|
|Special Features:||DISC 1: Colored Version
- Commentary by Director, Cinematographer and Production Designer
- Commentary by Director and Lee Young-Ae
- DD 5.1, DD 2.0 Audio
- Making of Film
- Deleted Scenes
- Characters for Lady Vengeance
- Alternate Scenes
DISC 2: Gradually Fade to Black & White Version
- Commentary by Korean Critic
- Commentary by Overseas Critic
- DTS, DD 2.0 Audio
- Short Film by Young Director
- Park Chan Wook. Mr. Vengeance
- Style for Lady Vengeance
- Sympathy for Lady Vengeance in Venice Film Festival
- Director's Choice (Short Film)
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