Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Review by Kelly
“After being wrongfully imprisoned for thirteen years and having her child taken away from her, a woman seeks revenge through increasingly cruel and brutal means.”
Park Chan Wook’s Vengeance trilogy started with Oldboy, continued with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and then ended with Lady Vengeance. I haven’t seen Sympathy yet but after seeing the first and final installment in the series, I really should seek it out. More thriller than horror, these movies are action packed with style, strong story lines and wonderfully bloody violence.
Our protagonist, Guem-ja, starts as a sweet and pretty woman who becomes involved with a school teacher, Mr. Baek. She also happens to be pregnant. He helps her out by allowing her to live with him, all the while involving her in his schemes and raping her. He then frames her for the murder of a boy, sends her to prison and puts her child up for adoption.
Mr. Baek is played by Min-sik Choi who has acted in two amazing Korean films, Oldboy and I Saw the Devil. His part overall is small in this film but his character contributes a critical element to the plot. The majority of the characters we meet through Guem-ja in the film are women who are in prison with her. Damn, they are fierce and brutal! After experiencing prison, Guem-ja has turned into a smoking, all black wearing, gun – toting (THAT GUN!), blood red eye shadow wearing, revenge seeking, intelligent woman. She is an absolute treat to watch.
The story is told mostly through flashbacks which is not a style I normally like to have override a narrative as it brings me out of the momentum of the story. However, the movie overall is still quite lovely to watch and the score is fantastic. It’s mostly violins and strings, with a short part being done by a choir. It’s quite beautiful when juxtaposed against the violence. There are at times some very odd imagery such as a dog on a sled with a human head? Although I don’t think this movie was as well done with regards to the cinematography in comparison to Oldboy (ugh that fight scene is so good!), it was still fun to watch and I was completely engaged. The ending was totally heart breaking and cathartic.
My only real gripe about Lady Vengeance was the length of the film. I felt that 2 hours was too long and that the story could have been cut down to at least 90-100 mins.
If you like your revenge with a side of eye shadow and Korean action, then check this one out.