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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)

A 2002 South Korean revenge drama directed by Park Chan-wook.

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A Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22

  • Jun 27, 2011
I had no idea what to expect (other than vengeance) from Sympathy for Mr. Vengeace, the first film of Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy. I've liked Park's dark take on the thematic material he works with as best exemplified in the second film of the trilogy Oldboy, but at the same time I wasn't as impressed with his vampire film Thirst. However, being open to new filmmakers and being a lover of foreign cinema, I decided to give this a try and was rather pleasantly surprised.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance in many ways is the best of the three films I've seen by Park Chan-wook, despite an ending that left me a little disappointed.

The film follows Ryu, a young deaf/mute artist who works at a factory to support his sister who is dying of a bad kidney. Ryu attempts to give his kidney to his sister to save her, but as it turns out their blood type isn't a match. To make matters worse Ryu is laid off from his job at the factory, so out of desperation he goes to an organ seller on the black market and gives her his entire life savings and trades his own kidney in order to get one for his sister. But Ryu is deceived and awakes from the operation to find himself naked and alone, his money gone, his kidney stolen, and with no way to save his sister. But then his girlfriend, an anarchist and revolutionary named Yeoung-Mi, comes up with a plan to help Ryu and save his sister. They will kidnap the young daugther of  Ryu's boss and hold her for ransom. But again, things don't go as planned when they realize that Ryu's boss is a selfish man who cares only for his money. With time running out for Ryu's sister, Ryu and Yeoung-Mi decide to kidnap the young daughter of Ryu's boss' best friend, Dong-jin, and ransom her instead. Things seem to work out as Ryu and Yeoung-Mi manage to get the sweet little girl and enjoy her company, meanwhile they also manage to get the money, but then tragedy strikes and Ryu's sister is lost and subsequently so is Dong-jin's dauther. These horrible deaths leave both Ryu and Dong-jin cold and bitter and hungry for revenge. While Ryu tracks down the black market organ sellers with plans to kill them, Dong-jin tracks down Ryu which leads him to Yeoung-Mi, whom he tortures to death but not before Yeoung-Mi swears that her anarchist allies will avenge her. Ryu gets his bloody revenge on the organ sellers who swindled him and cost him everything, but is himself attacked by Dong-jin. Unable to apologize for the death of Dong-jin's daughter and unable to beg for his life, which has become unbearable anyway, Ryu is killed. But Dong-jin's own life becomes forfeit when Yeoung-Mi's anarchist allies show up and keep her promise.

The film is undoubtedly as disturbing and emotionally harrowing as Oldboy and it has a grittier, more realistic nature which I enjoyed, but the ending felt like one act of vengeance too many and it was difficult to watch all of these relatively good people get caught up in a web of intrigue and self-annihilation as they hungrily seek out their retribution. Obviously, the shocking ending and the merciless killing were necessary to get the point across that the cycle of violence and revenge is unending and can only be stopped by forgiveness, but it was still a challenging film to sit through when you see these characters make the same mistakes over and over.
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June 27, 2011
still a review masquerading as a QT...nice one.
June 27, 2011
Masquerade is such a sexy word. LOL!
June 27, 2011
June 27, 2011
More Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance reviews
review by . August 29, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
dvd by Tartan
   SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE is the first chapter of Park Chan-Wook's vengeance trilogy. Oldboy was released first in U.S. shores, this film was released after on dvd. (When it fact this is the first chapter). After Park's breakout hit "J.S.A.", the director was finally able to make the films she always wanted to, I've read that Park originally wrote the script for "Mr. Vengeance" almost 10 years before he managed to shoot the film. This film was highly anticipated …
review by . January 05, 2007
Asians excel at horror because, not having to pander to Hollywood's rules, they can take you anywhere at all. For all this filmed was billed as a gory horror, violence was minimal, and certainly not gratuitous, but was good when it happened!    The film revolves around the lives of a deaf-mute and his sister who requires a kidney transplant. A kidnap attempt to raise money goes tragically wrong, and much blood-letting ensues. The ending makes me wince to this day. …
review by . December 27, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Park Chan-wook's Vengeance trilogy sure does give you a break from the normal film and it makes you appreciate Korean cinema. I saw Oldboy first and I was impressed and it is now one of my favorite films so initially I had to see the rest of the trilogy. First, if you are wondering what the violence is around I think it exceeds Oldboy a little and though most of the film can be comical or even sad at times the violent scenes has its moments. The film is about a deaf-mute man named Ryu who comes …
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Before he made the notorious cult hit Oldboy, South Korean director Chan-wook Park created Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, an equally gruesome yet elegant meditation on revenge. Desperate to get a kidney transplant for his dying sister, a deaf and dumb young man named Ryu (Ha-kyun Shin, Save the Green Planet!) kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy industrialist named Park (Kang-ho Song, Shiri). Despite Ryu's best intentions, things go horribly awry, setting in motion a series of escalating revenges--to describe the plot in more detail would undercut the movie, because much of its power comes from the spare and skillful storytelling. Chan-wook Park is careful to ground the audience in the characters' emotional lives; when the violence begins, the bloody events unfold with the hypnotic power of the revenge tragedies of the Shakespearean era, which had over-the-top plots and littered the stage with bodies, yet were full of rich poetry. Park's eye for startling images and careful editing creates a visual poetry, grotesque yet often haunting. Certainly not a film for everyone--squeamish viewers had best beware, while anyone who wants their violence flagrant and guilt-free will be disappointed--but cinephiles looking to have their hearts squeezed along with their stomachs will enjoy Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Park Chan-wook
Genre: Crime, Drama, Foreign, Thriller
Release Date: March 29, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
Runtime: 129 minutes
Studio: Tartan Video
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