Ah… I finally can sit back, take a deep breath and relax a little at home watching this show. Knowing this is the third installment to Park Chan Wook’s revenge trilogy. I am still in search for his first installment “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”. If someone practically have it, I hope you can tell me where to get it :). I watch Park’s second movie titled “Oldboy” and wow… trust me, it’s a MUST WATCH as it is a totally different type of plot and even storyline.
Knowing this movie is the third one of the trilogy (the movies are not connected with one another in any character or story development. They just share the same theme. The 3 movies focuses and resolves around the word revenge) I know I just have to watch it. What is even more encouraging, my friend highly recommend it.
Starting of the movie with a stunning opening title, I know nothing in the movie can go any wrong. It reminded me a lot of Nip Tuck’s opening except the fact that this was a little better. A little more mysterious yet elegant. No kidding… even if you have no interest in watching the movie.. just spare some time looking at it’s opening title.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance started of focusing on it’s lead character, Lee Geum Ja (Lee Young Ae of Jewel in the Palace). The 23 year old Geum Ja was released after 13 years of imprisionment. Upon released, she was greeted by a Christian minister presenting her with a white tofu cake to symbolize a new beginning and purity. However, Geum Ja just push the cake from the minister’s hand, insults him and walked off putting on her trendy sunglasses.
The show then flashback on what happened 13 years ago. Geum Ja is a problematic student. Everything went worst when she found herself pregnant and no where to go. She then appears at the door of his teacher, Mr Baek (Choi Min Sik). Mr. Baek appears to be a kind man giving Geum Ja a place to say and food.
Later, Geum Ja was caught and prisioned for kidnapping and killing a 7 year old boy, Won Mo. The detective of the case kept forcing Geum Ja to give the details of how he killed the little boy. At one point, Geum Ja was brought back to the scene to recreate the scene of how she killed the boy. As it turns out, Mr. Baek is the one that should be arrested instead of Geum Ja. However, Mr. Baek threatens to kill Geum Ja’s newborn daughter if she refuses to take the blame. Her case got the biggest media coverage at that point of time as many was shocked looking at her beautiful and innocent appearance.
When in prison, she is devote herself to Christianity and is being labeled as “Geum Ja the Kind Hearted”. Having and saintly and angelic face, Geum Ja befriends with her fellow cell mates. She donates kidney to one of her cell mates. She even take care of a Northern Korean spy who trust no one. In return of their friendship, the spy passes a book to Geum Ja containing a blueprint of a handgun. Besides that, she even helped kill a prison bully by feeding her bleach everyday. The prison bully even praised Geum Ja for being kind before knocking out which practically show how she hides her cruelty and revenge behind her saintly and angelic face.
The movie then brings us back to the moment where Geum Ja was released. With the help of her fellow cell mates, Geum Ja decides to put her 13 years of revenge plan to action. She visited them all trying and gaining help from them which includes building the handgun from the blueprint Geum Ja receive from the Northern Korean spy. Besides that, her other fellow mates gives her a place to stay, cloths and even a job at the bakery since Geum Ja is very talented in baking cakes.
One could really see her transition from being an angelic and pure person to a girl with a bright blue jacket and blood red eye shadow look. While putting her plans to action, Geum Ja visited the Won Mo’s parents. She chop of her last finger as an act of asking for forgiveness from them. They send her to the hospital in which she uses all her savings to sew her fingers back again.
Besides asking for forgiveness from the victim’s family, she also tries to look for her daughter. She is curious what would have happened to her daughter as she have not seen her before. Geum Ja then breaks in to a building trying to locate and gather details of her daughter. From the records, she finally get to know her daughter is named Jenny (Kwon Yae Young) and is currently staying with her foster family in Australia. Knowing that they do not speak korean, Geum Ja memorizes a few lines in English and the family. She even write down a letter to describe her presence.
The family is of course happy to see Geum Ja, however Jenny was a little upset as she didn’t understand why Geum Ja left her behind. Jenny did mention that Geum Ja would have to say sorry to her at least 4 times in order for her to forgive her. That night, Geum Ja decides to sleep with Jenny. Jenny then asked Geum Ja how to call “mum” in Korean whereby Geum Ja just replied “Miss Geum Ja”. The next morning, as Geum Ja was about to leave for Korea, Jenny decides to follow. However Geum Ja refuse to but quickly agreed when Jenny threatens to slit her throat.
When they return to Korea, Geum Ja plans to kidnap Mr. Baek with the help of his wife who went to prison together with Geum Ja. Mr. Baek’s wife actually drugged his dinner. Getting information from the minister, Mr. Baek attacks his wife first, beating and ties her to the chair after knowing she have been secretly meeting and talking to Geum Ja. While looking at his wife across the dining table, Mr. Baek fell unconcious after eating the drugged dinner.
On the other side, Mr. Baek hired some man to kill Geum Ja and her daugther as they were walking on a quiet street. The guys try to use chloroform on Jenny and Geum Ja. Jenny was unconcious, but Geum Ja manage to escape and shot the two guy with her handgun. Upon surviving the attack, Geum Ja heads to Mr. Baek’s house to find him unconcious and ties him to a chair and transports him to an abandoned school outside the city.
Mr. Baek starts to tremble when he saw Geum Ja looking at him. She then starts to strangle Mr. Baek like how she re-enacted suffocating Won Mo in her confession. At that point of time, Mr. Baek’s mobile phone rings. Geum Ja took his phone only to notice a few child toys were found decorating the phone, including Won Mo’s favourite marble. Geum Ja then notice by taking the blame for Mr. Baek has caused a few more children to fall victim to him. Being very angry, she shot his feet.
Geum Ja and Mr. Baek’s wife then look around the house for other evidence. They finally found some video tapes being taped under his table. The content of the tapes made Geum Ja even more determined to kill him. The tapes contain evidence of how Mr. Baek torture and kill the childrens. The detective that arrested Geum Ja finally know the truth and helped her find the other victim’s parents.
The victim’s parents then gather together at the school and watched the tapes. After watching the tapes, the angry parents then start discussing on what to do to Mr. Baek. Geum Ja suggested beast like Mr. Baek should be tortured till death which to surprise, all the parents agreed to her idea. They then figured and think of how they should proceed with the idea. They all ended up wearing raincot and taking weapons like hammer, knifes and everything they could find and lined up. Each have a chance to go to the next room to have a piece of Mr. Baek. The last parent eventually killed Mr. Baek with a pair of scissors that belonged to his grandson whom was killed by Mr. Baek.
Each of the parents picture was then taken to ensure that none of them can betray the others and surrender themselves. They then burried the corpse outside with Geum Ja shooting Mr. Baek’s body. Before covering the corpse, she threw the handgun in and burried him.
After a busy day, Geum Ja invited the parents to the bakery shop where she work. She serves a cake to the parents. They all sang a birthday song and then eat the cake. When everyone is silently eating, one of the parents suddenly said that it is a sign that some angel has passed by. Then then finished the cake and goes separate ways.
Geum Ja then carries a cake and walk home. Jenny then runs toward her barefooted and hug her tightly. Geum Ja then open the box and revealed a white box cake… similar to the one the minister presented to her on the day she was released from prison. Geum Ja then tells Jenny to “live white”. Jenny then tasted the cake and tries to give Geum Ja a taste. However she just stay stun. Jenny then told Geum Ja that she should live even more purely. Jenny then dances around and tries to catch a snow with her tongue symbolic of the receiving of the consecrated bread in the Christian society. Geum Ja then starts crying. Instead of catching a snowflake she drops her face to the cake with the narrator saying “Farewell…” and Jenny hugging Geum Ja from behind calling her “Miss Geum Ja”.
I really love the cinematography was shot. This is totally different from the previous intallment in terms of plot and story wise even it resolves around the same revenge theme. Oldboy pretty much tell about the act and consequences while Sympathy for Lady Vengeance pretty much talks about the process and the after thought of revenge. Which practically completes the revenge theme in a whole.
The film was shot beautifully. The colour play the director used to express the different stages and changes was simply amazing… from a pure and angelic girl wearing white to her wearing a striking blue jacket with blood red eye shadow and a toned down to black leather jacket towards the end. Wow… I somewhat think without much narration itself, the colours and the cinematography itself explains everything in a subtle way.
Although it is not as good as Oldboy, I somewhat think Park is still the man. His ideas and concept for his movies are remarkable and undeniably talented. Times like this, I somehow just wish more directors could come out with more movies like this. Yes… with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, it totally secured Park as one of my favourite Asian director.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was last modified: April 3rd, 2017 by velverse