The first film in Park’s Vengeance Trilogy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance trails a punky deaf-mute who desperately attempts to secure money for a kidney transplant his ailing sister badly needs, leading ultimately to a series of events that spiral rapidly into a bloody cycle of violence and revenge.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Firstly: it has one of the greatest titles in the history of cinema. Secondly: for something that is nominally genre cinema, it is designed, fussed over, and ultimately built floor-to-ceiling like a serious-as-fuck art movie. And it is serious. Though deserving, I guess, of its hallowed fanboy status, the subject of the thing (and its dramatic scale) compare easily to Sophocles and Shakespeare.
The first entry in Park Chan-wok's 'revenge' trilogy is an exceptionally well plotted tale about the aftermath of guilt and the downward spiral of revenge. There is a somewhat absurdist touch to the violence portrayed as each act begets another. Performances are quite good as is the visual panache in storytelling. Though eclipsed by the following 'Oldboy' this first entry is nearly as powerful.
Objectively speaking, this is good cinema, but too much graphic violence and blood for me. I don't know if I can watch the rest of the trilogy. I probably shouldn't. It would be safer for me to stick to my old black and white films; they almost never have so much blood. This story could have been told without it, and quite beautifully, as evidenced by the earlier scenes, before all of the blood.
Park Chan-Wook at or near his best, visually inventive, engaging and mixing well between trauma, emotion and black humour. He gets across the main message that violence leads to more violence, as he does in the entire duration of his masterpiece trilogy. This is just a master working at top capability.
This was a let down. The big problem here is the script is wildly uneven and the pacing is plodding. It's clear Park wanted to make a film of slow simmering suspense, but it just sort of plods along without much direction. Compared to the creative energy unleashed in Oldboy this is average at best. I hope Lady Vengeance doesn't fall short either.
Morally muddled and cold as ice; tricks you into caring and punches you in the gut for it. Doesn't have the slick manga style of Oldboy or the Guignol beauty of Lady Vengeance, but it is hands-down the rawest, toughest bastard around.
I'm speechless. This is perfection. The intensity, the pace, the details. Chan-wook Park is a master of his art, making us suffer ever so gracefully, twitching us, twisting our sentiments, making us silent, until we get the blood-red feeling painted all over the piece. We absorb, then we endure. Maybe the message here is that graphic or not, all is violence.
It's not as surreal or dizzying as Chan-wook's masterwork, Oldboy, but a gripping movie nonetheless. It's a bit heartbreaking, too, to get to know the young kidnappers but realize that they are also doomed to fail (or worse), as revenge wraps itself like a mummy around each character going through stages of grief. Deeply unsettling but, like many Korean thrillers, it's full of insight into the human condition.