Park Chan Wook’s “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”


Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

In my personal continuing quest to see all films by Park Chan Wook (Oldboy), I recently saw “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”.

It’s particularly interesting to see the contrast between this film and Park’s earlier film “J.S.A. Joint Security Area”.

Stylistically as a director he clearly grew a lot from “J.S.A.”. In that film there was
inklngs of the style so noticeable in “Oldboy” but it was markedly a more simple visual dynamic.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance sees Park start to move closer towards the virtuoso visual style of “Oldboy”.

He sometimes creates dark comedy, putting the outstretched hand of an employer set to fire the protagonist Ryu (Ha-kyun Shin, who was also in “J.S.A.”) in extreme close-up.

Unlike “Oldboy”, in “Mr. Vengeance” Park sets up multiple characters with very understandable motivations for revenge.

Ryu’s sister kills herself, convinced she will die without the kidney she needs.

Ryu in fact had the money to get said kidney, which appeared for donation shockingly fast, but assuming it wouldn’t he had already gone to the black market.

For his troubles he ended up sans kidney and the money he needed to pay for the legitimate transplant.

So he decides to kidnap supposedly wealthy Park Dong-Jin’s (played by “The Host”‘s Kang-ho Song) daughter.

The girl dies, accidentally.

And a lot of people go with her.

Thematically “Mr. Vengeance” doesn’t have as much to say as “Oldboy”, mostly about the vicious circle of revenge without the larger ideas about the nature of love.

But it’s worth a watch.


With a Park Chan Wook film you are not lacking in candidates for this award. Probably the cleverest and least gory bit that sticks in the mind is when a group of young men listen against the wall to Ryu’s sister moaning in pain and assume she is having sex. They jerk off en masse.


Because when Ryu goes to get a kidney from the black market and the boss lady’s hands shake too much for her to shoot up, he helps her out. This is never explained, nor does it need to be. Ryu’s just that nice of a guy….he later murders 4 people.


Kang-ho Song yawns as the body of Ryu’s sister is cut open for autopsy in front of him.

Tony Gilroy Switching Gears For “Duplicity”

Tony Gilroy has made a career out of being…well, relatively humorless.

The Bourne series, which he wrote on, was known for its nearly emotionless protagonist.

And Michael Clayton (directed and written by Gilroy) was marked with the same serious, somewhat somber, weary intellectual vibe.

So when “Duplicity” was announced, about two rival corporations feuding, it seemed Gilroy was going to keep in the same vein.

But watch the trailer below and you’ll see Gilroy has something entirely different going on. It’s refreshing to see Gilroy lighten up!

check the trailer at:


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