"Be white. Live white. Like this." - Lady Vengeance
Park Chan Wook is pretty much an unstoppable force as a director. As a third part of his 'vengeance trilogy', although none of them are actually connected, this one suffers a bit from the others in its story but makes up for it in ridiculous visuals. Even though not quite as good as Wook's other vengeance films, this one still stands out a well crafted and striking film.
Our heroine has spent 13 years in prison after being set up to take the fall for the kidnapping and death of a little boy. She is forced to take the blame as the kidnapper takes her child and threatens to kill. Unfortunately, our villain underestimates the power of a woman scorned and she plots her revenge for years. Upon her release, all rules are off as she searches for her long lost daughter and seeks to take the life of the man whom took hers.
All in all, its your average revenge tale without a lot of those quirky and insane twists that we normally see from a Park Chan Wook film. He throws in a some of his odd jumping style in the first half of the film as we see what actually happened to Lady Vengeance in prison and the people that she came to know and use as her networking. This is actually the toughest part of the film and doesn't work quite as well as it could have. Some of it seems to be more padding than actual legit plot devices and is the the low point of the film. Once we get more focused on the now and here with her on the trail of blood is when the film really starts cooking and really works well. The pacing suffers from this first half but the second half makes up for most of it.
Visually, Wook seems to try to make up for the lack of plot with some insane and quirky sights. His use of texture, color, and dazzling shots does impress the technical side of my psyche quite a bit. It is a stunning film in this aspect and partnered with some very amazing dialogue and a few more than emotional wrenching monologues (the scene where she talks to her daughter through the translator is intense). I love the use of color to represent things in the film (the use of white snow as a cleansing element or the color red for her discontent) is also top notch. Despite its fairly up front story, Wook adds in amazing amounts of layers with his visual style that wouldn't have been there normally.
"Sympathy For Lady Vengeance" is a visual treat that lacks in moments of pacing and story, but makes up for in thought provoking concepts and visuals. Not Wook's greatest achievement but a stellar film nonetheless.
Written By Matt Reifschneider