Unable to afford proper care for his sister dying from kidney failure, Ryu turns to the black market to sell his own organs only to end up cheated of his life savings. His girlfriend urges Ryu to kidnap the daughter of wea... more »lthy industrialist Dong-jin, who recently laid him off. Ryu agrees, but unforeseen tragedies turn an innocent con into a merciless quest for revenge. Bound by their personal losses and deep-seated anger, the two men are thrust into a spiral of destruction.« less
"Korean cinema continues to impress as Chan-Wook Park proves "JSA: Joint Security Area" was no fluke. "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" is not an easy movie to stomach. It contains some of the most graphic scenes of violence I've seen in a long time, and many of the subject matters it deals with are unsettling and downright depressing. It's an absolutely gripping film, however. As with JSA, the major strength is the solid premise and plot -- a chain reaction of tragedies of Shakespearian proportions. There is no clear line between good and evil -- it's merely a conflict between two groups of people who just happen to be on the opposite sides of the fence (metaphorically, this time).
There is very little dialogue (Park says he tried to limit it to bare minimum), but the superb acting (especially Du-Na Bae playing the villain against type and Ha-Kyun Shin as the deaf/mute protagonist) and stylish widescreen shots are more than enough to carry the story.
This is the first installment of Chan-wook Park's Revenge Trilogy (followed by "Oldboy" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance")."
Goes Beyond Old Boy
A Street's Disciple | 05/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Old Boy is like eating cooked salmon.
This is like cutting into raw tuna.
I have never seen anything like this. This is more disturbing than any American/Japanese cinema combined. Horrifyingly disjointed, disturbingly real--because it could happen to any one of us.
These Koreans. They can make movies. Jesus Christ."
A Brother's Love
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 10/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After watching Park's film _Oldboy_ the night before, I decided to also watch his earlier film _Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance_ as well. Unlike _Oldboy_, I had heard very little concerning _Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance_, but considering the exhaustively emotional experience of watching the newer film, I definitely wanted to check out Park's earlier work. I must say that I found this film to be more disturbing than Park's blockbuster.
The film opens with a quite touching scene in which a letter sent by the death-mute Ryu is read at a radio station. The letter states how much Ryu appreciates the sacrifices his sister has made for him throughout his life and now, because his sister needs a kidney transplant, it is time for him to repay her kindness.
Sounds like the opening for a great tearjerker, but, being a Park Chan Wook film, things begin to go hideously wrong. Stuff begins to hit the fan when Ryu learns that his blood type is B while his sister's is A, so his kidney is useless to her. Not wanting to give up the fight, Ryu exchanges his kidney and 10 million Won, around ten thousand dollars, for a type A kidney. At least, this is what he had hoped to do. So penniless, and without one of his kidneys, Ryu soon learns that a kidney is available for his sister and he only needs to pay the ten million won to make his sister well. Of course Ryu is broke and to make matters worse he has also been fired, so what is our green haired protagonist to do? Teaming up with is sprightly revolutionist girlfriend Cha Yeongmi, Bae Du Na, Ryu plans to kidnap the daughter of his former boss. Things go well at first, but, of course, the situation becomes worse and worse for Ryu.
This is a frightening film. There were some truly terrifying moments in _Oldboy_, but this films works on a more visceral level. One can almost feel the tension boiling within Ryu and the desperation that he must feel in his desire to aid his older sister. Also, it should be mentioned that the acting of Sang Gang Ho, playing the part of the kidnapped girl's father, is extraordinary. He is definitely the most aggressive and frightening character in the film. "
Dimitrios | Greece | 09/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As so many other people I decided to watch this film because I was impressed by the brilliant "Oldboy" and wanted to check the previous work of this fine Korean director. Although "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance" is a little bit less impressive than "Oldboy", it is very powerful with some very brutal scenes of nasty revenge methods. The story has many surprises, and some back and forth movement regarding the time sequence, but the finale is unpredictable and hard hitting indeed!"
Revenge in a "different direction" - all directions!
Miguel B. Llora | Bay Point, California USA | 04/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a sucker for Lee Young-ae - so if asked which of the "Vengeance" trilogy I liked best... I would say it is all about "Atonement." If you watched "Lady Vengeance" - you will know what I mean. However, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance marches to the beat of its own drum - yes, it is not Oldboy (and neither is Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) but that is the genius of Park Chan-wook - who has just unseated Wong Kar-wai in my cinematic Mt. Olympus.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Story is all about the carnage - it was really difficult to figure out who "Mr. Vengeance" was. You loved them all and you hated them all. Ryu, a deaf-mute, works hard at a factory to save some money for an organ transplant for his sister. Ryu's sister is in dire straights and needs that kidney, now! Understandably, Ryu is beginning to feel that same sense of desperation - and desperation is the key concept. He is willing to do anything (and at this point it really is "anything" to save his sister). The desperation hits a high note (or low note) when Ryu goes illegal get the kidney. Plans backfire and he is left not only without a kidney but short the money that would have paid for the legitimate operation. Concurrently, Dong-Jin, a businessman who has worked tirelessly to get were he is, attempts to live an ordinary life with his daughter. As ironies would have it, the daughter gets kidnapped for - you got it - operation money. Regrettably for both parties, the kidnapping becomes - let us just say - the seed for the second half - the Mr. Vengeance carnage - where we really see Park's talent blossom.
Don't you ever find yourself in days when nothing seems to go right? Well think about that all the way around - yes, with deadly consequences. Something, again about the editing made one feel the action was both natural and believable. Not that it made me say want to go out and take a bat to someone but that dangerously everyone seemed to have motive... a sort of Brother Karamazov meets Raskolnikov - but best to leave all that for another space and time.
I lament that Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is really not a movie for everyone. Here is another admission - I slept just about every time I started the movie - I am not sure if it was the time, my physical condition, or simply that the setup dragged a bit... The melancholy tone and graphic violence is a bit of an acquired taste. Mind you, this is not the same sort of "Asian Extreme" with all the Japanese horror movies out there. But give it a chance - and if you feel asleep in the theatre, make sure you buy the DVD it will be worth the wait. Then get set for Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - no expectations, no hurts.