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.
YOU KNOW YOU’RE WATCHING SOMETHING UNIQUE
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.
BEST ACTING MOMENT
Kang-ho Song yawns as the body of Ryu’s sister is cut open for autopsy in front of him.