Sympathy for Mr Vengeance

Director: Park Chan-wook

2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 121 min.

After directing one of the groundbreaking hits of modern Korean cinema with Joint Security Area, director Park Chan-wook turned to a more personal and aesthetically challenging form of cinema. A complex, bleak and often brutal tragedy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance tells of Ryu, a deaf and dumb steelworker who kidnaps his boss’ daughter in order to pay for a kidney operation for his beloved sister. After the kidnapping goes awry, Ryu and his girlfriend struggle to avoid Ryu’s old boss, who’s determined to take an eye for an eye. As things go from bad to worse for everyone involved, there’s no redemptive light at the end of the tunnel, just a maze of complex moral issues that are brought vividly to life by Park and his excellent cast. Sympathy makes an excellent companion piece to the same director’s Oldboy, and is at least the equal of that more celebrated work.

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