It’s been a long time since I fell in love with Park Chan-wook’s epic film ‘Oldboy’ and I’ve been waiting nervously for the finale ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’ (Lady Vengeance) to get a US release. Tartan Films is set to release her majesty on May 5th, but I was lucky enough to get the film all the way from Japan. Although not better than its predecessor, ‘Lady’ is still a brilliant, and beautiful film that only the great Chan-wook could deliver.
Lee Geum-Ja, at the age of 19, goes to prison for the murder and abduction of a child on behalf of her accomplice Mr. Baek, only to find out that she is betrayed. While in prison, she carefully prepares for her revenge by winning the hearts of her fellow inmates with her kindness, thus earning herself the nickname ‘kind Ms. Geum-Ja’. Upon her release from prison after 13 years, she finally sets out to seek revenge on Baek, with the help of her former prison mates.
In each of Park’s three films the vengeance is dispersed differently, creating a new justification for the madness that follows. In most movies there is little set up and a whole lot of action- in ‘Lady’ we are being acquainted with the characters for over an hour until the final fiasco. What happens at the end? Sorry I can’t tell you! But Park makes sure he ends this wonderful trilogy with a bang, and even a little more. Although the gore is minimal compared to the first two films, this ending still has its shocking moments and a nice puddle of blood.
What shines more than anything in a Park Chan-wook film is the screenplay, which are becoming more and more impressive with every venture he takes. Park is screaming to the world “I know how to make a good movie, let me share it with you!” and yet nobody is listening. For the third time in three Park reviews I’m going to share this with you, the secret to a good movie is character development. Know your characters, know what they’ve got through, know what they’ll be going through, and when something happens involving them you almost feel as if a friend of yours is in trouble. I respond to Park movies as if I’m there, I always yell out stuff like “No! Come on, please don’t!!” It has become natural for me in a Park film.
His films transcend greatness not just by having a great script and amazing actors (actresses), but the look of his films are also masterpieces. The way he captures the snow falling, the way he brings out the blue in the sky, or the red of the blood- his films are stunning. The cinematography is as intense as the dialogue and the acting. The editing is also done with special care as Park holds on many of his shots letting you take in all of the scenery, there are no quick cuts or flashy editing sequences to keep you involved.
Forget Steven Spielberg, I believe that Park Chan-wook is the worlds best director. I only pray that he doesn’t end up shooting a US film anytime soon, the suits would ruin his visions just like they have Shimizu’s. ‘Lady Vengeance’ is a chilling tale of revenge that will guaranteed have you on the edge of your seat by the finale. It’s so hard for me to not give this film a perfect score, we’ll just have to see if it holds up as much as ‘Oldboy’ did. Park Can-wook has delivered to us the greatest trilogy of all time (next to Star Wars) and I wish I could share these movies with everyone. If you’re a fan of horror, thrillers, or just plain gorgeous cinema, make sure you see ‘Lady Vengeance’ this May.