Original title: Chinjeolhan geumjassi
Starring: Yeong-ae Lee, Shi-hoo Kim, Min-sik Choi
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written By: Chan-wook Park, Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 52 min
Lady Vengeance follows Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy to complete what was dubbed here in the west, The Vengeance trilogy. Three unconnected stories directed by Chan-wook Park dealing with the themes of revenge and salvation.
In Lady Vengeance, Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) plots her revenge on the man who forced her to serve a 13 year prison sentence. How that plan develops, and what it becomes is just something you’re going to have to discover for yourself. Because Lady Vengeance is just too good, and any attempt to describe the plot will spoil the many fascinating surprises the film delivers over its nearly two-hour running time.
The film however, does get off to a muddled start. The first act is mainly spent introducing Geum-ja Lee, and some of the supporting characters she meets while in jail. This is done as a series of flash backs after she meets each of her companions on the outside. The effect is dizzying, and over a relatively short period it felt like each character was introduced twice. The appearance of some of these characters change drastically too, and I found myself struggling to figure out who was who.
By the second half of the film though, the pacing starts to calm down and the story takes some very interesting turns. As Geum-ja Lee’s plans are put into action, new discoveries made along the way force her to make changes, and the themes of revenge and justice get fully explored. I wish I could tell you how exactly, but you’re going to have to trust me on this and just go rent the film.
Chan-wook Park is a really talented director. His eye for interesting visuals, and the use of color and texture are great. I find his story telling gets muddled and confusing when the visual styling tricks trump communicating important plot information to the audience. But I also appreciate how these powerful themes of revenge are explored in the vengeance trilogy. Lady Vengeance starts awkwardly, but more than makes up for that during the superb second half of the film. Yeong-ae Lee’s performance also anchors the film well.
Movie Prep: << spoiler >>
Like the other films in the vengeance trilogy, Lady Vengeance is violent and bloody. It also gets disturbing later in the film when video footage of several kidnap victims is played. If you’ve enjoyed Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy, you’ll likely enjoy this too.
Chan-wook Park’s eye for great visuals needs a nice HD screening to appreciate properly.
I loved how the themes of vengeance and justice broaden as Geum-ja Lee puts her plan into action.