Lady Vengeance (18)



Thriller (2005)
115mins S Korea

Starring: Lee Yeong-ae, Choi Min-sik, Kim Shi-hu
Director: Park Chan-wook
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Concluding his Revenge Trilogy, which began with Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and Oldboy, South Korean director Park Chan-wook marries gore with breathtaking visuals as the beautiful yet deadly Lee geum-ja is finally released from prison and exacts a terrifying revenge on the man who put her there and forced her to give up her baby. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

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LondonNet Film Review

Sweet Revenge
Pan Chan-Wook's third film in his revenge trilogy goes deeper than destruction...

In stark contrast to the first two films of Park Chan-Wook's award-winning trilogy, Lady Vengeance is far more focused on subtle plot mechanics, and less on the violence so preeminent in the Korean director's revenge series.

"I came to the conclusion that I need to adopt more graceful rage, classy hatred and delicate violence," Chan-Wook said after the success of the acclaimed flicks Old Boy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. "In the end, I wanted revenge to be an act of redemption, a vengeance carried out by a person who seeks to save her soul. And that's how Lady Vengeance was born."

Better known as Geum-ja throughout the film, Lady Vengeance (Lee Young-ae) is seeking penance for a crime she didn't commit, but for which she has just finished serving 13 years in jail. At the age of 18, the young and pregnant Geum-ja innocently became involved with a teacher she was staying with, named Mr. Baek (Choi Min-sik.) After enticing her to help him kidnap and ultimately kill a 6 year-old boy, Mr. Baek blackmailed her by threatening her newborn daughter and forced her to take the heat for his crime. Geum-ja spent the next decade or so in jail hatching a plan of revenge against him.

This is not to say that Geum-ja lost the caring side from her youth; actress Lee Young-ae relayed a riveting dichotomy of innocence, as Geum-Ja hardens and deals with her feelings of sin and regret. This is most notable when Geum-ja develops the dual nicknames of "the kind-hearted" and "the witch," after doing favors for several cellmates while simultaneously procuring allies for her plan. Her conflicting personalities climax with the film, where the line between laughter and tears grays completely.

Although there are a few homages to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Lady Vengeance is filled with many more feelings than the "redemption" its name suggests. Geum-ja's revenge turns into a quest for justice, as she learns how many more people were affected by the cold-hearted teacher, wonderfully portrayed by Min-sik.

Despite being rated 'R', the violence in Lady Vengeance was relatively subdued until the last third of the movie, when Geum-Ja and her accomplices start gruesomely acting out their revenge. While the photography and many of the scenes aren't particularly stunning, the power and depth of many of the scenes compensated and created a different level of visual effects.

Lady Vengeance is brimming with insight and emotion, and manages to maintain its enthralling plotline. Through Chan-wook's style, direction and remarkable cast, he was able to draw empathy for Geum-ja's changing character and a deeper understanding for her desire for revenge.

Lauren Burke


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