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SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Park Chan-wook

Starring:
Kang-ho Song
Ha-kyun Shin
Du-na Bae

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A deaf-mute by the name of Ryu whose sister is dying turns to desperate measures to save her. When his plan backfires, Mr. Vengeance takes control.
Is it good movie?
After watching Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance I had to take a step back. Yes, this f*cker affected me hardcore. I didnít want to deal with it in any way even though it was one of the best films Iíve seen this year (although it was released on DVD in 2005 and itís a 2002 release). It was painfully and emotionally messed up and proves that revenge is not always sweet. Now, this is the part where I give a brief description of the plot but Iím afraid if I say too much it would take away from the experience. I can tell you that it begins with Ryu, a deaf-mute young man whose sick sister needs a kidney transplant and they canít afford it. But to say anything else would give too much away in my humble opinion. I knew nothing before I popped this into my DVD player and Iím glad I didnít. I can also mention that this film has a whole lot to say, about money and the class struggle, health care, love between brother and sister, father and daughter and the consequence that comes from what you do to others. This is a smart script that takes the time to develop interesting characters who you may despise or you may feel sympathy for at different moments throughout the film. There is not a truly innocent person in hereÖ except for two. Neither of which I will mention for reasons stated above. Trust me, youíll figure it out.

I think it is a safe bet to say that Park Chan-wook may be one of the best directors working today. He knows how to work the actors and he knows how to keep the pace moving just enough until all hell breaks loose. He is also a pro at the bloody gore angle, which this film has just the right amount of. There are several knife slashings and a baseball bat put to good use. But most importantly, he uses the camera. The framework here is brilliant. He has amazing style whether shooting in an abandoned building, pulling further back a dark hallway and letting the black swallow his characters, or two lovers communicating sign language with split screen and a mirror. He has a very definitive style which never takes away from the story. He also gets some wonderful performances from his cast including Ha-kyun Shin as Ryu, Kang-ho Song as Ryuís boss Park and Ji-Eun Lim as Ryuís sister. Each of these characters are so well developed that you feel for them or despise them. Brilliant yet heartbreakingly disturbing and while I donít want to give anything away, I will say this... See this movie!
Video / Audio
Video: A beautiful transfer in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. For a movie that uses color (especially greens), it looked fantastic.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and the DTS Surround Sound complimented this piece to perfection. The sound and imagery is clear on this disc.
The Extras
Tartan Asia Extreme usually tends to be a bit of a letdown when it comes to the extras. Although lucky for us, Mr. Vengeance offers up a treat with a sub-titled Director's Commentary with director Park Chan-wook and fellow director Ryu Seung-wan who give an informative look at the making of this film. Mr. Chan-wook pays attention to detail and while I was watching this commentary, I was stunned as to the level of detail he gives his films. And both of these dudes keep the dialogue moving and never let it drag. A terrific listen especially if you love moviemaking. Directors don't get much better than Park Chan-wook, watch and learn.

Next we have a First Look at Lady Vengeance (2:31)... If only it could have been longer.

The Original Theatrical Trailer (1:25) is a very good trailer but you might want to watch this after the film. I think it gives a bit too much away.

Next we have a point your mouse and click Photo Gallery, not my favorite type of extra but there are some great shots from the movie. So, if you are into that...

And finally, we get a look at few other Tartan Asia Extreme Trailers including "Old Boy" (1:36), "Spider Forest" (1:19) and "H" (2:02).
Last Call
Park Chan-wook has created a very disturbing and emotionally charged movie about vengeance and its consequences. Not only is this a smart and stylized feature, it also has a pretty nice amount of gore that will give you a few cringe inducing moments. Hollywood has been doing vengeance movies as long as there have been stories to be told including Death Wish and Kill Bill but rarely has it been portrayed like this. If you want to see what a great film by a great director looks like, look no further than Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Itís a raw, brutal attack and smart enough not to be shock for shocks sake.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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