Chan-wook Park, who directed the movie everyone’s talking about, ‘Oldboy,’ nailed it right on the nose with his earlier film ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,’ which Tartan will be releasing sometime in 2005. I feel that ‘Vengeance’ is important to film because it teaches an intricate lesson- character arcs are what make a film work, not necessarily story arcs.
The idea is ingenuine and inventive as Park toys with your emotions to make the film work. The plot follows a man names Shiri (Kang-ho Song) who loses his job during a time of desperate need, his sister is dying and needs a kidney transplant. He is forced to try the black market where he gets screwed over. Having been screwed over Shiri and his girlfriend are forced to kidnap his old boss’s daughter for ransom. While in captivity, the daughter is treated well and you see that the choice was a last resort move, not out of anger or rage. As the ex-boss brings the money, something terrible happens and Shiri and his girlfriend are blamed for it. What follows are pure acts of revenge. The movie is constructed with “Vengeance” and “Sympathy” and the tools in which the film operates.
The point is that everyone who is in the film are good people to an extent and you empathize with them. You begin to agree with the decisions they make and when they go sour you feel terrible for them. But as Bill would say in ‘Kill Bill,’ “Hence are the consequences,” everyone gets what’s coming to them. No matter how much you care for the characters, you understand that the decisions they made are going to have consequences, but you feel terrible watching everyone suffer them.
The movie is 80 percent character building and 20 percent death, by having you relate to the characters it makes watching them die that much more painful- that’s the genius work of Park. The acting is unbelievable and only heightens the emotions that are supposed to be brought out of you.
‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ also has its brutal moments with gallons of blood shooting across the screen, what would an Asia Extreme movie be without it? One kill is easily one of my favorites of all time; it’s just plain wrong in two different way, but I won’t spoil it for you.
‘Vengeance’ is a gut-wrenching film that makes sure you walk away halfway in shock. Its graphic imagery and authentic performances make Chan-wook Park’s film one step off from being a masterpiece. All you soon-to-be filmmakers out there make sure to check out ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,’ because there is a lesson to be learned here that you won’t find at film school.