One of the unexpected delights in setting up the Foreign Favourites series has been discovering new bloggers and their enthusiasm to contribute. This includes Laura O at Filmnerdblog, whose site is a delightful mix of film genres housing detailed and well written reviews. I have been catching up for lost time and really recommend you have a look too.
Film Favourites series: Lady Vengeance
Lady Vengeance is the final film in what’s become known as South Korean writer/director, Chan-Wook Park’s, Vengeance Trilogy. And what a finale it is! Don’t worry if you haven’t seen Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance or Oldboy, it isn’t that kind of trilogy. Each film stands alone on its own merits and tells a separate story about unrelated characters and events.
So, to Lady Vengeance. This film tells the story of Geum-ja Lee, a beautiful young woman who, when we meet her, has just completed a thirteen and a half year prison sentence for kidnapping and murdering a little boy. So far, so grim, right? Stick with it.
Upon her release, Guem-ja, sets the wheels in motion for an elaborate and gruesome revenge plot against the man she holds responsible for her incarceration. Park shows how ‘kind-hearted’ Guem-ja is now a cold, determined, manipulative and damaged woman, as desperate for redemption as retribution.
We’re also treated to a series of flashbacks which shows her innocence and naiveté before the crime, as well as her time in prison. In these scenes she seems to be a quiet and unassuming character, although we soon see that she has a dark side, even if her actions have good motives. And that, dear readers, is pretty much all I’d like to say about the plot. I fear to say any more may spoil it for those of you who’ve not yet seen it, but might want to one day.
My two pence
I was hooked right from the opening credits…that music! It somehow conveys a sense of mystery and intrigue, not to mention foreboding. Listen to it here
Lady Vengeance is visually striking too, from the opening sequence where Guem-ja leaves prison to the scenes in the deserted school, there is some really memorable imagery. Yeong-ae Lee shines as the tragic Guem-ja, the ultimate anti-heroine, successfully expressing the full gamut of emotions. While there’s a solid supporting cast of characters, it’s Yeong-ae Lee who carries this film.
Lest I give the wrong impression, I should say that Lady Vengeance is flawed. It takes long while to get going and at times the story seems muddled and a little confusing. But for all that it is a truly unique story, perhaps partly because the vengeful protagonist is a woman.
While it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste – it’ll be too violent for some – much of the violence here takes place off-screen, unlike the utterly brutal (and brilliant) Oldboy. If you’re able to cope with a generous dose of blood in your films, give Lady Vengeance a go.
Watch the trailer here
My thanks to Filmnerdblog for participating, and for such an impressive review. I haven’t seen it, but with such a positive write-up I probably will for sure.