After loving Oldboy for such a long time (possibly in my top ten favourite films, depending on my mood), I set aside a day to wath the Vengeance Trilogy bookends, finally fufilling a lifetime goal of viewing the whole set. The Vengeance Trilogy comprises three films directed by Park Chan-Wook, which although not direct sequels, all deal with the themes of revenge, violence and salvation. Although I saw Oldboy befor the others, I thought it would be nice to review it aswell, because I make the rules and I can do what I want. Hopefully I can continue to prove my hypothesis right that Park Chan-Wook has yet to make a bad film.
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
The first of the three films follows a deaf mute factory worker who has to support his ill sister, who needs a kidney transplant. After being conned by organ dealers, and laid off at his factory, he kidnaps the daughter of one of his bosses friends, with the help of his radical anarchist girlfriend. Of course, things are never that simple, and the kidnapping soon goes horribly wrong. Like the other two films, giving too much away will ruin the impact, so I will say no more plot-wise. The film is a sad one, and who ever you decide Mr. Vengeance is, you certainly feel sympathy for him by the end of the depressing and brutally violent climax. Like Oldboy, there are no real winners here, and the futility of vengeance is fully explored before the two hours are out. 7 out of 10.
One of the only films I simultaneously tell people is brilliant, but not to watch it. The end is so brutally and magnificently evil, I suspect it will never be surpassed. It is the story of Oh Dae-Su, who is released from a 15 year imprisonment by an unknown antagonist, he is given five days to find his captor and figure out why he was imprisoned. The film is more than a solid mystery/thriller, with stellar work behind the camera working effortlessly alongside an amazing ensemble cast. The extreme violence is not for the squeamish, but is wholly justified, and if you can show me a better scene than the "Corridor Sequence", I will but you a coke. A modern masterpiece, and a fine example of the new wave of Korean Cinema. 10 out of 10.
Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
Another plot involving kidnap and false imprisonment, the Lady of our title is relased and sets about finding her daughter and killing the man resonsible for her false incarceration. Flashbacks to the prison reveal her interractions with other inmates willing to help her on the outside, as she plans the ultimate revenge for the man who wronged her. I felt this entry didn't do the trilogy justice, like it was a vengeance story for the sake of it. I was expecting a more elaborate plot and execution. It feels weak in comparison to the fils that precede it. 6 out of 10.
As a whole, I would award the trilogy 8 out of 10, purely on the basis of Oldboy alone. This is the film for me, where Chan-Wook really flexes his ample ability behind the camera, and the trilogy as a whole shows of his skills as a writer (something that doesn't always translate across from foreign releases). Essential viewing for any film buff.