Lee Guem-ja has been released from jail having served 13 years for the kidnapping and murder of a child. A seemingly unassuming prisoner, Guem-ja has in fact been plotting her revenge on the man who was responsible for her incarceration. With the help of some of her fellow inmates her plan will soon be complete. But, just as her trap is ready, Guem-ja finds herself re-united with her long lost daughter. Will her daughter be able to bring her the peace she so desires and will her long committed quest for revenge lead to salvation or damnation?
A triumph of style over substance?
- Lady Vengeance review by RP
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You rated this film: 3
I first saw the film 'Oldboy' from Korean director Park Chan-wook back in 2004, I think. But it was only a couple of months ago that I learned that it was part of a trilogy (the so-called 'Vengeance Trilogy'). The first part is 'Sympathy For Mr Vengeance' and the final part 'Sympathy For Lady Vengeance' (aka just 'Lady Vengeance').
I've now watched the complete trilogy – and I'm very impressed. There is a clear development in directing style across the films, culminating in the very stylish (even artistic) 'Lady Vengeance'. And while the first two films are more straightforward, each tells its story in a complex fashion which unfolds slowly. The films can be watched standalone.
As in the other two films, the storyline in 'Lady Vengeance' is complex. The central character is Lee Geum-ja who has confessed to and been imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. While in prison, Geum-ja shows an angelic persona but when released seeks vengeance on the man responsible. Recruiting others, there is a collective act of revenge.
The film is visually stylish and directed in an accomplished manner, but I did not find it as satisfying as the two earlier films. And although the subject matter (child murder) is shocking, there is less of the violence or grisliness of its predecessors, which strangely is part of their attraction. Also I couldn't help but be reminded of 'The South Bank Show' as both the film and TV programme have similar theme music based on Paganini's '24th Caprice'.
I enjoyed 'Lady Vengeance', but perhaps it's a triumph of style over substance. 3/5 stars - watch it if you enjoyed 'Oldboy'.