Sympathy for Lady Vengeance Movie Review – Toronto Korean Film Festival

Toronto Korean Film Festival –
Aug 6 2012 – Based on the production values of this festival, Founder and Executive Director, Eugene Kitaek Hong and Director, June Kim have done yeomans work in putting together the inaugural Toronto Korean Film Festival.  With a myriad of films, sponsors, partners, and government acknowledgements in the 2012 Program Book, Hong has ensures that the Korean festival will break through the cavalcade of film festivals that dot the Toronto landscape throughout the year.  T-MAK World had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Taste of Kimchi Cinema and  filed this review on Sympathy For Lady Vengeance on July 1st. 
Delicate porcelain beauties aren’t suppose to be sent to jail and if they wind up there, their slight build and innocence almost certainly puts them at the bottom of the prison prey food chain.  Geum-ja Lee (Young Ae Lee) is definitely a porcelain beauty but she is anything but prey.  Director, Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is the third and final installment in his “Vengeance Trilogy”.  With the groundbreaking Oldboy, now a classic and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance the follow up, Chan-wook brings a more feminine and somewhat comical sensibility without compromising  on the actors deep emotional scars and depravity in seeking revenge. 
The story focuses on Geum-ja Lee who is released from prison after 13 years after being set up for the kidnap and murder of a young child when she was 19.  Lady Vengeance sets in motion an elaborate plan to get revenge for her and the other families who’s children were killed by Mr. Baek (Choi Min-Sik) an elementary school teacher in name only.  Geum-ja Lee’s transformation from victim to victor delivered no false notes and Chan-wook’s stylistic production and vibrant colour  palettes only added to the movies intensity.  Her quest for vengeance falls in tandem with her need to redeem herself as a mother, as Lee reveals a yearning heart  underneath this twisted mind.    
Outstanding performances with formidable themes of retribution, family and coming to terms with loss, married with Jeong Jeong-hun’s stark and haunting cinematography make Sympathy for Lady Vengeance a beautifully dark film  that continues to resonate long after the final scene.
Verdict:  4 / 5 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is a meditation in the art of revenge. 
Review by: John Dash
June 22nd – July 1st, 2012
Innis Town Hall, U of T   
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