Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance: A Look Back at Park Chan-wook's 2002 Thriller

It’s slightly laborious to consider, however it’s been 20 years for the reason that launch of Park Chan-wook’s influential thriller, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Not solely did it change the course of the director’s profession, kicking off his famend Vengeance Trilogy, it introduced South Korean cinema to the worldwide stage in an entire new approach. So how did this grim, nihilistic movie from 2002 come to have such an impression when it comes to world cinema? It was not an easy path.

To actually check out the impression of the movie, we’re going to return slightly additional than 20 years, at Park’s trajectory as a director. Initially he had deliberate to be a movie critic, however a viewing of Hitchock’s Vertigo brought about him to alter his thoughts and pursue a extra hands-on movie profession. His early directorial efforts (The Moon is…the Sun’s Dream and Trio) weren’t particularly profitable, and he nonetheless relied on his movie criticism to get by. In 2000, he directed Joint Security Area, a couple of taking pictures within the DMZ between North and South Korea, and was launched into the South Korean highlight because it was essentially the most seen movie of its time. Which gave him extra inventive freedom when it got here time for his subsequent enterprise.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance boasts an all-star forged, starring Parasite’s Song Kang-ho as a determined father, Save the Green Planet’s Shin Ha-kyun as a deaf-mute man struggling to maintain his terminally unwell sister, and The Host’s Bae Doona as a considerably bloodthirsty anarchist (though the movies that introduced these actors to the eye of American audiences had been all post-Mr. Vengeance). But it’s not your typical thriller. Its unrelentingly dismal plot, a couple of man whose life constantly looks as if it may’t worsen, after which does, didn’t trigger audiences to heat to it, and it didn’t do nice on the field workplace. There’s kidnapping, the black market organ commerce, most cancers, and fixed violence. But it has fascinating opinions on the idea of revenge: who deserves it, who will get it. And the performances are excellent. To this present day, it has a middling Rotten Tomatoes rating, however it additionally gained various Korean movie awards, and hopefully the 20-year anniversary will encourage audiences to provide it one other, much-deserved probability.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a unbelievable movie in its personal proper, however it’s in all probability finest recognized for paving the best way for the second installment of the Vengeance Trilogy, Oldboy. It got here out only a 12 months later, and was a complete breath of contemporary air when it comes to thriller movies. The story of a person imprisoned by an unknown captor for 15 years, then simply as inexplicably launched, is visually beautiful, completely forged, and its Oedipal overtones put it on a distinct stage than what audiences had been used to on the time, rote motion thrillers churned out by Hollywood. Need we point out the continual take battle scene? Park adopted up the Cannes Grand Prix-winning movie simply two years later with Lady Vengeance, probably essentially the most stylistically arresting of the three movies. Like its predecessors, it tackles themes of revenge and guilt and forgiveness in ways in which drive the viewers to confront the problems, which, once more, isn’t all the time the case in a Hollywood thriller. Hearkening again to the primary installment of the trilogy, Lady Vengeance facilities on the loss of life of a kid, however as audiences ought to count on from Park’s movie, nothing is simple. Box workplace success-wise, you possibly can put this one in between the opposite two movies.

Related: Here’s What to Watch if You Loved Oldboy and Want SImilar Movies

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