Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Before director Park Chan-wook would go on to direct the now famous Oldboy, he directed what would be known as the first chapter in his "Vengeance Trilogy." While certainly not as good as the film that would precede it in this set of thematically-related movies, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a much quieter film that boasts of two very strong performances by two very talented lead actors. One of the main characters doesn't speak a word the entire time and yet still manages to become an endearing, albeit misguided, character. 

Perhaps the one thing I loved about this movie is that each of the characters were understandably sympathetic and repulsive in turns. I suppose that the "bad guy" of this movie would probably be Shin Ha-kyun's character, the deaf-mute Ryu. Although the other guy gave him a run for his money, if you'll pardon the pun. 

Ryu's sister is going to die from kidney failure and Ryu is not only not a match but he is also without a job. Feeling that all hope is lost, Ryu decides to give his severance pay and one of his own kidneys to the black market so that they can get his sister a kidney that matches in exchange. Of course, the black market takes his money and his kidney, but disappear quickly.

Wouldn't you know that after all of this the hospital has found donor? Unfortunately, Ryu can no longer afford the operation. 

Ryu's extremist girlfriend is pissed and hatches a plan to kidnap the daughter of Ryu's ex-boss in order to get the money. However, Ryu changes the target to a daughter of the his ex-boss's friend in order to help avoid suspicion. 

It was all supposed to be so easy... They get their money and the guy gets his daughter back. The daughter wouldn't have been lacking for anything, either. Ryu's sister would be watching over the girl the entire time, believing her to be a daughter of one of Ryu's friends. 

Unfortunately, accidents can happen. 

The Good, The Bad, The Weird's Song Kang-ho co-stars as the frustrated and grieving father who little by little begins to realize just how far a person will go to get revenge. 

For the most part this film really is quiet, an exercise in characterization. It certainly doesn't seem anything like Oldboy. Don't sleep on this one, though. Bleak is a good way to describe this movie. Bleak, with a side order of bleak, and extra bleak on top with bleak filling. If there is anything that you can learn from this film is that revenge is a dish best served cold. But I suppose the real question is... Who really deserves revenge? 

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