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Movie Review: The Vengeance Trilogy

하나, 둘, 셋 ( One, Two , Three )

Vengeance TrilogyThere is a big reason why  I am not writing three different reviews for the three movies constituting the Vengeance Trilogy- Sympathy for Mr.Revenge, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance, besides the obvious ones that it is a huge task to. Of course, they deserve individual appreciation and applause for the portrayal of immensely disturbing human stories. But then, it is very important to state on a single page, that even if the element that connects these three- Vengeance-is full throttle, it is the underlying human stories which actually steal the show, in each film. And needless to say, they are all very different and very awesomely disturbing as well. We have seen Hollywood’s brand of violence in many shades, colors, lights and sounds. We have been thrilled, scared, often left disturbed and then by the end of the third night we almost get over it and probably start pondering over the latest action flick. And that is where the Vengeance trilogy scores. It has been almost two weeks since I watched OldBoy and I watched Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance today (I watched Lady Vengeance in between, which again states another fact that in this trilogy, unlike any other, the order of watching doesn’t really matter). And yes, I still vividly remember the corridoor fight scene, the octopus eating scene and the tooth plucking as much as the grotesque smile of Oh Dae Su in Oldboy. That is the power of story telling. And I start this post by offering a salute to the genius of Chan-wook Park.

Mr.VengeanceUno: Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance tells us the tale of a kidnapping gone completely wrong. But well, that is just the permeable membrane enveloping the surface. What this story truly represents is how violence can destroy normal people. How it can make a deaf-mute, green haired worker turn into a psycho killer who can even go to the extent of piercing someone’s throat artery, tear open their guts and chew their kidneys. It is a tale which works in its own pace and relies more on the events happening than the dialogues. More so because the main protagonist is mute, but also because that’s how real it is. It is a disturbing drama more than anything else and the violence is just an effect of it. When you see Dong Jin mourning the death of her daughter we follow him walking, while his eyes are wandering in vacuum. He enters the autopsy room and he is informed of his daughter’s swollen lungs. We do not get to see a loud outcry but we see Dong Jin holding tightly to the grass on a green field, as a tear drop trickles down. The same Dong Jin, who by now has gone completely insane after seeing hallucinations of his drowned daughter, on discovery of the corpse of Ryu’s sister, reacts completely different in the autopsy room. We see him look at it directly and even yawn. Message conveyed. But what is most interesting is the race of who will find who and how will he confront the other. The entire debate of who’s revenge is justified and the absence of a “hero” and/or a “villain” is what just left me numb. Lastly, Mr.Vengeance leaves behind some of the most ruthless and unforgettable violence ever to be filmed and will not be easily consumed by the normal movie junkie. From the scene where the factory worker slices his belly with a blade as blood leaks out , to the ruthless shock torture of Yeong Mi, to the one shot of Ryu’s sister’s decomposed corpse, and yes to wind things up, Ryu’s cut open Achilles tendons under water. A grand start to the trilogy that lives up to a name like Vengeance.

OldboyDos: Oldboy is more known for its disturbing subject matter than its now famous tooth plucking scene. But then, that’s upto you. For me, it remains a story of human complexities pushed to the extreme. Of human disjointedness dance wildly with chaos. Vengeance is so strong here that someone keeps his target alive and feeding for 15 complete years, waiting and planning for the perfect vengeance. It is just out of my normal human comprehension that someone can do this. But then, in a world of Sushil Sharma (Tandoor Murder case) and Nithari’s Moninder Pundher, where everyday news is all about violence served with garnishing (Mr. Rajat Sharma,are you reading?), this can pass out to be a day’s headline. But well, the vengeance here consists of something just a bit more complex than death as a punishment. The punishment here is the guilt and the sin of incest with which a person is made to live. I will not say anything more about the plot but the way it is revealed, layer by layer is a hint of the workings of a mind driven by a very dark passion for vengeance. You’ve to see this movie to experience the chills which no amount of Exorcists and Rings can give. Because man is scarier than ghost. Enough said about the plot, the picturisation of Oldboy is top-notch. In a way it is more of a texture based representation. The dark one room prison, the lavish apartment, and the CORRIDOOR. All of them speaking a tale of their own. Not to forget, the quintessential component-VIOLENCE. Park leaves no stones unturned here and nothing has been left more to say or imagine. We see blood squirt out of the jaws as Oh-Dae Su pulls the lever, we see live octopus being chewed upon, and then we also see the sexual animal in Oh-Dae Su. But what left all of us (all the viewers of Oldboy, I speak on your behalf) in awe is the one take shot of the corridor combat which resembles like a Video Game with the main character going against many people with the camera following from the left to right. What we see is hell unleashed and Oh-Dae Su just doesn’t stop, not even when he is beaten up and gets a knife stabbed on his back. To conclude I’d say Zinda was such a lame piece of crap for a copy. It didn’t even have a fraction of the intensity of Oldboy, both in terms of the “made to suit Indian viewers” storyline and violence. Some movies should be left untouched, un-remade.

Lady VengeanceTres: Lady Vengeance is well, the finale of the Vengeance trilogy and is poetic, hilarious at times, visually riveting and according to the One Knight (who stands), this is the one to watch if you are a sucker for beautiful cinematography meshed with violence which is narrated mostly as the scream in the other room, rather than its predecessors which dealt with it upfront. I saw this movie after Oldboy, and I was still in shock by what I saw in Oldboy. So, the violence here seemed a bit subdued in comparison with the other ones, but in no way can be still termed as easy-to-chew. The basic difference between this and the other ones in the trilogy is that Lady Vengeance portrays Geum Ja as the heroine, the good one and her motivation for revenge is fully justified right from the word go. It doesn’t question Geum Ja’s righteousness, because the wrong done here has to be punished, because the one who suffered here is not only Geum Ja, but also her daughter and the families of the children whom Mr.Baek brutally murdered. Geum Ja however is faced by the question of the best way that Mr.Baek can be brought to justice, and she starts planning it right from her prison days. Well, you might find some similarities between Lady Vengeance and Kill Bill- both being movies about vengeance and well, both being mothers. But here, the climax is damn satisfying and it doesn’t involve a long montonous monlogue. It’s silent, it’s brutal and collectively relished by the like-minded to the tune of the classical Vivaldi music. The color settings add to the storyline perfectly and in every way.This is technically superiror to its predecessors although the storyline isn’t as strong and shocking . But yes, it is indeed a brilliant ending to the Vengeance Trilogy.

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+ 2 = six

  1. You have a beautiful insight into the characters. Perhaps, you can be a good critic. But more than that you love to study the characters. Bravo for the write up and Bow down to Park. My fav of the trilogy is Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance, just for the sheer scorching violence

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  2. That was one helluva post dude. I could sense the air of revenge through your posts. This is indeed a must watch. Although I am yet to watch Lady Vengeance, I think Oldboy is really awesome. Great post!

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  3. Awesome review! So cool that you group all three together, Korean movies are really great at these gripping movies. My fave is also the more recent one, Lady Vengeance.

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