Lady Vengeance - Review
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING dazzled audiences with Old Boy, Park Chan-wook now returns with Lady Vengeance, the third in his astonishing revenge trilogy.
Occupying similar territory to both Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and Old Boy, Lady Vengeance is a dark, violent yet utterly compelling affair that thrives on the macabre imagination of this film-making maestro.
Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yeong-ae) is released from prison after 13 years having taken the fall for the kidnap and murder of a child that she did not commit.
Uniting with her cellmates on the outside, she concocts an elaborate plan for revenge on the boyfriend (Choi Min-sik) who framed her that also involves tracking down the daughter she was forced to adopt.
Matters become more complex, however, when Geum-ja discovers that her boyfriend’s murderous actions weren’t confined to one child and she is compelled to seek out the distraught families of his other victims to give them the chance for some retribution.
As bleak as the scenario sounds, given that it involves the murder of children, Lady Vengeance is a richly drawn tale that thrives on Chan-wook’s ability to marry black humour with some genuinely poignant moments.
Hence, flashbacks to Geum-ja’s time in prison seldom fail to generate laughs, yet are offset by some of the more disturbing scenes involving the tragedy of Geum-ja’s arrest and subsequent conviction.
And while not as breathtakingly violent as Old Boy, Lady Vengeance still packs a pretty mean punch, not least because of the complexity of the emotions on show.
Geum-ja is especially effective at conveying the many layers of her character (from calculated rage to caring mother), while Min-sik (Old Boy himself) presents a chilling, everyday villain.
His fate, while protracted and gruesome, is fully deserved even though audiences may have trouble getting through it.
Given the weight of expectation surrounding Lady Vengeance in the trailblazing wake of Old Boy, it is satisfying to be able to report that Chan-wook’s film does not disappoint.
For this is a macabre, surreal yet painfully human masterpiece that deserves to take its place among the very best films in the revenge genre.
In Korean with subtitles
Running time: 1hr 52mins