Revenge is a dish best served cold… with tofu.
Or at least such is the case in the movie, Lady Vengeance,
the third and final flick in the revenge trilogy of Chan-wook
Park, the Korean director behind Oldboy and Mr.
Vengeance, continues his meditation and commentary on the ultimately
futile and tragedy of that human response of revenge.
Geum-Ja (Lee) is a young lady convicted and jailed
for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy. In her 13 years of
incarceration, Geum-Ja befriends inmates who will serve her purposes,
and crafts an elaborate plan against the real kidnapper, Mr. Baek
(Choi), for when she is released. And if you know
anything about Park’s filmography, or if you know anything
about Oldboy, you know there will be grisly violence, torture,
death, murder, depictions of cruelty against living animal creatures,
and lots of juicy blood. I’m talking enough blood to fill
the Grand Canyon. So much blood that even Dracula wouldn’t
be able to finish it. Get it? This movie has lots of bloodshed.
Geum-ja was a young student at the time of the crime, and was coerced
into taking the rap for it in order to protect her infant daughter.
Now she’s out of jail and calling on her disciples and ready
to unleash her rage on Baek.
This is a disturbing, unsettling story that’s hard to watch
at times. Some of the events it depicts are truly horrible and despicable
(actions performed by Baek in particular). And there really are
people in the world who have committed such acts, and it’s
hard to put into words why. We try to justify it or enforce a rational
explanation to it, but sometimes there really isn’t one. The
scariest part is when faced with those he terribly wronged, Mr.
Baek’s words seemed to be the most relevant when he basically
just says that there are no perfect people. Even the seemingly innocent
victims’ relatives have their own skeletons that reveal themselves
in the end, which is also equally tragic.
Park does a lot of little odd, subtle things with the frame and
the images therein. You’ll see little surreal touches or changes,
certain shifts of someone’s face in a photo that I didn’t
even notice the first time around. The camera work and production
design are certainly top notch and ultra-visceral.
Despite how bleak this movie looks and feels, what’s important
is that deep down there is a message of hope, the hope we all have
or should have for the world and how we want to and try live. Or
something like that. Definitely not one of those, “I’m
a poet and didn’t even know it” moments I was looking
“Take this flower… for you have vengeance to take comrade.”
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris