Review: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

July 2, 2006 at 12:05 PM (Movies)

Watched Oldboy director Chanwook Park’s older film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance yesterday evening.  My feelings on viewing it were mixed — the film is certainly well made, with good photography, a controlled pace that suits the story, and good acting.  However, nothing good happens to the characters — there is no victory that anyone experiences, only things that go horribly wrong and are avenged in graphically violent ways.  Due to the ultimately depressing nature of the movie, I can’t really say that I enjoyed any of it.

Anyway, the story is about deaf and dumb Ryu, who lives with his very sick sister.  His sister needs a kidney transplant, otherwise she will die.  Ryu, unable to find a donor for the kidney, contacts some underground organ dealers and gives them 10 million won for a kidney.  Unfortunately, he is drugged, and robbed of not only the money, but also his own kidney!  The hospital later informs Ryu that a kidney has been found for his sister, but they need 10 million won for the operation.

Having no money, Ryu (who has been fired from his factory job) and his girlfriend decide to kidnap the factory boss’s little daughter, and ask for the money for her safe return.  If things were bad at this point, they only get worse for all the central characters in the movie, with situations turning against them in horrible ways.

The director’s Oldboy had a lot of depressing and downbeat moments, but atleast they were dramatic and had some purpose within the overall film.  Here, the violent "vengeance" is presented as is.  Nothing good ever happens to the characters.  At some point or the other everyone becomes "Mr. Vengeance" and you feel bad for the characters at both the giving as well as the receiving end.  This may have been the point of the movie, but for me, it worked against the film, in the sense that there is absolutely no enjoyment to be had.

This is one of those "really good" movies which I can watch only once!  Well, perhaps, director Chanwook Park’s third film in his "revenge trilogy", Lady Vengeance, will be better.

Rating: 6/10

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