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Lady Vengeance

Director: Park Chan-Wook

SOUTH KOREA • 2005• SUBTITLED• COLOUR• DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO• 115 MIN


FROM KOREAN HOTSHOT PARK CHAN-WOOK, WHO MADE HIS INTERNATIONAL BREAKTHROUGH LAST YEAR WITH THE DAZZLING REVENGE FANTASIA OLD BOY, COMES THIS EQUALLY GRIPPING STORY OF A WOMAN WRONGED — AND THE PRICE SHE PAYS FOR GETTING HER OWN BACK.
Angelic-faced Lee Young-ae is the utterly steely heroine who has just spent years in prison for the horrifying crime of suffocating a young boy. Although not responsible for the actual killing, she’s not entirely without guilt in the whole dreadful misadventure. Prime responsibility rests with a certain individual Lee is now planning to track down and confront. Park’s wildly inventive visual style and sheer storytelling confidence is firmly in evidence as flashbacks to the friendships forged behind bars are intercut with the progress of Lee’s plan of action. Following some playful stuff in the early stages, the film gets a whole lot tougher as the jaw-dropping ramifications of exactly what Lee has in mind come into view.
In many ways, this latest offering is a fusion between the bravura of Old Boy (whose put-upon leading man Choi Minsik returns here in a radically different role) and the compressed fury of its stunning predecessor, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance. In fact, the three titles form a loose trilogy in which the problem of fathomless evil seems just as intractable as the dehumanising cost of revenge. Here we’re rooting for ‘kind-hearted Miss Geum-ja’ after the injustices heaped upon her, but is she really only trying to remove the permanent stain of her own guilt? Fiendish mayhem meets serious moral inquiry in a visceral yet haunting fable for our times.

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