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79 Ratings



Directed by Yermek Shinarbayev
Soviet Union, 1989
Drama, History


Soungou, a young and fragile Korean boy, carries a heavy burden on his shoulders, transmitted in his childhood by his father. His obsession in life: revenge. If tradition is not fulfilled, if his father’s soul is not appeased, Soungou will never find his place on hearth.

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Revenge Directed by Yermek Shinarbayev
What finally gives Revenge its power as a film is its employment of and awed respect for the sheer presence of light, which offsets and finally dissolves the grave momentum of the action. Shinarbaev and the cinematographer, Sergei Kosmanev, have made four films together, all of them visually powerful, but here every image… is impregnated with pure radiance. The film embodies the sense of a benign universe far greater than the rancid confusions of human beings.
June 01, 2017
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Using floods of light and splashes of color as a counterpoint to the ugliness of nearly every character’s actions and intent. The result is thoroughly unsettling in its contrasts and, like Akira Kurosawa’s similarly vibrant Ran made just a few years prior, requires a significant amount of historical context in order to fully grasp it implications.
May 31, 2017
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As Kent Jones says, Revenge is tough, requiring some background context and an eye for subtle symbolism. But to clarify, it’s not tough for being an anomaly, but rather for being an all-encompassing embodiment of the Kazakh New Wave, the Korean diaspora, and a world in transition. Part history, part myth, and part coming-of-age, the story . . . is a metaphor for the blood-stained history that corrupts the natural harmony of the world and the lives of those struggling to survive and belong.
September 12, 2016
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What are people saying?

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Revenge

    A Mizoguchi-style dream, a literally glowing piece of folklore that pits beauty against destruction and follows the logic of a fable instead of what "real people" (whoever they are) would do. The resonant coup: how the film chases its folkloric figures across the border into modern times and through the dirty schisms of the 20th century. Cheers to the World Cinema Project for restoring this Kazakh jewel.

  • Jason's rating of the film Revenge

    An uncanny combination of the rough and the smooth. History, here, is like a mist and there is so much diaphanous light it practically blinds. Perhaps this is a comment on perception itself. A poetic one. This is not blunt art. It is diaphanous. Shinarbayev seems to use cinema as a delivery system for transcendent moments. He especially shines at transposing reality into magic when he trains his camera on women.

  • Kelley Dong's rating of the film Revenge

    not only is the subject of this film overwhelmingly significant (the korean diaspora in the kazakh SSR), it's also beautiful and each shot appears to glow. the final 10 minutes broke my heart, and though the plot seems to revolve around vengeance, i think its core lies in diaspora and the longing for that unachievable return to the homeland.

  • Daniel S.'s rating of the film Revenge

    When Asian philosophical and religious themes move west, they become even more relevant. Strongly recommended.

  • Bernardo Crastes's rating of the film Revenge

    Before there was modern Kazakhstan, this gem mixed Korean spirituality and transcendence, Tarkovsky-like imagery and Antonioni's alienation in a Kazakh melting pot. This tale of poetic revenge relies more on poetry, making it as subtle as it is intense, as it goes through years and years of failed existences, conjuring a beautiful sense of dread.

  • Steve Thompson's rating of the film Revenge

    At once a folk epic of magic realism and a portmanteau of linked tales of horror and revenge, this ambitious film from the Kazakh director Ermek Shinarbaev is subtle and beguiling. While the evocative cinematography and complex themes of memory and childhood suggest the influence of Tarkovsky, the creepy and unnerving score adds an important visceral quality to a film otherwise tending towards the arcane and artful.

  • Mohamed Sultan's rating of the film Revenge

    What a wonderful peace of craftsmanship! Certainly a landmark in Kazakh cinema. Very reminiscent of Kobayashi's Kwaidan, which had similar elements, especially when you compare their intertextual narratives. Shinarbaev is an intelligent filmmaker who know's his cinema.

  • nouvelle vague 1960's rating of the film Revenge

    "Revenge"is the haunting,mystical tale of a mans journey from Korea to the Soviet Union,in order to find his daughters killer.However,he dies before he can fulfill his revenge and so he passes the task onto his son.This stunning film is beautifully shot and is full of wonderful sounds.It unfolds like a folk tale about obsession and revenge.Filmed at the end of the Soviet era,could the bloodied sickle be significant?

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