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Film: Lady Vengeance

The dog is not the film's main target.

I already watched Oldboy, the second of Park Chan-Wook’s films in the thematically-connected Vengeance Trilogy (following Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance), several weeks ago, so I’m jumping straight to the third. Officially the third film is titled Sympathy For Lady Vengeance but the version in the trilogy boxset is simply called Lady Vengeance, so that’s what I’m going with.

General spoilers follow for Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance

The titular lady seeking vengeance is Lee Geum-Ja, a sweet girl who went to prison for a murder she didn’t commit and served thirteen years. While in there she plans her revenge and does good deeds for her fellow inmates, so that upon release she can call in some favours and have her vengeance. She’s not wholly innocent, having been involved in a kidnapping not dissimilar to the one in Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, convinced to take part for essentially the same reasons as Ryu was in that film, but Lee retains a greater level of sympathy than he does.

Though all three films in the trilogy centre on vengeance they tell different stories. In the first film Ryu and Dong-jin are both seeking vengeance and are the targets of it, both ultimately destroyed for it. In Oldboy Oh Dae-Su fails to achieve his own vengeance, ultimately left all but shattered by the vengeance Woo-jin enacts upon him. For the final film Geum-Ja has her revenge, even if she doesn’t seem to gain much satisfaction from it, the events that fuelled her need for vengeance having left her irrevocably changed from the girl she once was. It ends with the suggestion of hope, but not a promise.

Lady Vengeance is another very good film, at times raising questions of what any of us would do in the same situation, given the chance to confront a person who wronged us so terribly. Would we be content to hand them over to the law or desire instead to take things into our own hands? Will it even make a difference, seeing as the damage has already been done? As with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance this film ultimately sits in the shadow of Oldboy, a film that for me is so good that it would likely sit in a list of my favourite films of all time, but all three make for excellent viewing.

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  1. August 5, 2011 at 15:09

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