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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Lee Yeong-ae
Choi Min-sik
Kim Shi-hu
Nam Il-woo
Go Su-hee.
Directors
Park Chan-wook.
Screenwriters
Park Chan-wook
Jeong Seo-gyeong.
Running Time
114 minutes

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Lady Vengeance
From the makers of Old Boy...


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Plot
Female prisoner Geum-ja (Lee), who has acquired an almost angelic reputation, enlists the aid of the cellmates who she’s helped during her 13-year sentence to exact her revenge on the man responsible for her incarceration.


Review
Lady Vengeance

Completing the retribution trilogy launched by Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance and continued with 2004’s excellent Old Boy, Park Chan-wook’s latest is a grimly sardonic study of humanity’s capacity for cold-blooded brutality. Yet for all the intricacy of the flashbacking structure and the ingenuity of its use of light, colour and shade, you still won’t be distracted from the story’s flawed psychology. Furthermore, Lee Yeong-ae lacks the emotional range to carry us along with a plan of revenge that begins almost as soon as her former teacher (Old Boy’s Choi Min-sik, who exudes malevolence in what only amounts to a cameo) implicates her in the kidnap and murder of a young boy and then gives away her baby for adoption.

The cod-classical score is superb and there’s plenty of mordant wit, particularly during the sequences detailing the crimes of Lee’s accomplices. However, even though Park handles the insinuated violence with sly expertise, the shift into ensemble melodrama for the lacerating finale is too abrupt to convince, and what could have been an audacious and satisfying coup feels more like a duplicitous sleight of hand.


Verdict
Slick and frequently mesmerising, but ultimately it feels as calculated as the murky, melodramatic denouement.


Reviewed by David Parkinson

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Lady Vengeance
Empire Star Rating

친절한 금자씨

Fantastic. Beautiful, mesmerising. Violent, disturbing. One of my favourite films ever. Although Geum-ja gets what she thought she wanted, she is still unhappy. Still looking for the retribution she so yearns for. Farewell, Ms Geum-ja. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MaddiEx at 21:48, 19 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lady Vengeance

The last part in Chan-wook Park`s Vengeance trilogy is at least equally as good as (if not better) than that renowned second installment, Oldboy. When I saw it a few years ago for the first time I thought it was fantastic and now, with the blu-ray, it was even better. The crisp clear picture quality during the colour part and the fade-to-black-and-white part give the film that little bit more extra atmosphere. That fade-to-black-and-white part is a great addition to the film. It`s pe... More

Posted by TheGodfather at 20:07, 10 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Lady Vengeance

I think all three films are excellent but my favourite has to be SFMV, then Oldboy, then LV..  quality films that I thoroughly enjoyed. ... More

Posted by fuzbucket mutant at 23:29, 01 December 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Lady Vengeance

On its own, Lady Vengeance is a very good film. When compared with Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance though it falls flat. I agree with Lupin that a lot of the scenes are not needed and the film did not keep me interested for the whole run time. ... More

Posted by connexions at 20:06, 27 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Lady Vengeance

Visually Lady is a great film and on paper has a chilling story but its overblown and desperately needed half an hour of fat trimmed off it. Chan-Wook really needs an editor thats not scared of him. Its good but it isnt Oldboy. ... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 15:13, 23 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Lady Vengeance

Lady Vengeance is a masterpiece. Park Chan Wook understands that if you want Vengeance you have to pay for it and every film in his trilogy gives you the conclusion you think you want, but you never enjoy getting there. Its a point made perfectly as far as I am concerned and a lot more subtley than, say, Funny Games. (which always strikes me as being a little confused as to what message it wants us get, so it just tells us). Elegantly violent and beautifully acted Sympathy for Lady Venge... More

Posted by Lupin 3 at 15:25, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Avoid, along with the rest of the trilogy.

Nearly pips Oldboy - just lacks the zip and the momentum of its predecessor. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by KnightofZyryab at 00:35, 04 November 2007 | Report This Post


Avoid, along with the rest of the trilogy.

My introduction to Park Chan-Wook was Joinst Security Area (JSA) which I have to say was an incredible film. 10/10 A truly great film. Park then went on to make the Vengeance Trilogy, which I have finally finished trawling through today. Oh dear. The beauty, mystery, exploration and ultimate tragedy of JSA has been thrown out of the window for three movies which I can only call exploitation of an audience's thirst for depravity. Now there's nothing wrong with depravity when a dir... More

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Posted by NapoleonX at 21:02, 03 November 2007 | Report This Post


thought the first two were the best but still really liked this ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:23, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


thought the first two were the best but still really liked this ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:23, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


good film, but not as good as oldboy ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by casino at 18:54, 11 January 2007 | Report This Post


A weird and violent film that loses its way a bit, but overall very good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 16:13, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post


Not as good as OB maybe, but...

...awesome filmaking nonetheless. Without wanting to rip off Simon Crook's reveiw this film really is as good as anything David Lynch has ever done. It's brilliantly complex, beautifully shot and spinkled with wicked black humour. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joelj at 13:08, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post


Dissapointing

The first hour or so of the film is pretty good but then it slows down to the point where it felt like I'd have a better time watching paint dry...or reading freddy flintoff's biography ( yes that bad). After seeing oldboy and thinking it was one of the best films of last year along with many who also saw it, it seems the case that the director has done the typical thing of becoming too ambitious and somewhat too confident that each of his films are going to be regarded as masterpieces which has... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by noenthusiasm at 14:12, 09 May 2006 | Report This Post


Vengeance was Hers

Excellent film... Beautiful film and my high expectations where met. Lady Vengeance herself was a superb role and Yeong-ae Lee carries the role to justice. "Lady Vengeance" is difficult to describe without revealing major plot points, as the most memorable scenes come at revelatory moments in the story. Suffice it to say that the climax blends tragedy and hilarity with a degree of success that few directors could hope to match. Its a poetic finale to Park's excellent Revenge Trilogy, b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Stanley Kubrick at 02:05, 09 May 2006 | Report This Post


Did you like this?!

Well, although this is a great taste for Korean cinema, there is far more out there. In fact there is KOrean film festival this may in central London from the 22nd May through 26th May. For all those students out there, you should have finished your studies and guess what?! tickets are free. Although final details are yet to be pubilshed, check it out on my site http://www.koreanfilm.org.uk/7.html ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by koreanjase at 13:32, 29 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

An entertaining film that should strongly be considered a stand-alone film, not part of some trilogy. Its better to have seen this film alone unlike me who watched Oldboy straight before. Do not expect Oldboy 2, for this is a much more tamer affair, but by no means is that a bad thing for it is also a much more psychological and emotional one. 4/5 I personally found it better on the second viewing. ... More

Posted by Ell at 23:20, 06 March 2006 | Report This Post


Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

I haven't seen Old Boy or any other Korean film to be honest, but you don't need to have anyway.   I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it had me going "HA!" a couple of times when certain people got what was coming to them, but it also had me on the verge of tears towards the end (but I'm not going to spoil it and say why, or how).   This film is beautifully shot, and really gets the blood pumping. The full title of this film, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, delivers just that. Th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JV at 23:04, 06 March 2006 | Report This Post


Brillant

We have seen Mr Vengeance which starts the trilogy, we then see old boy come for vengeance and now its time for Lady Vengeance to add the final shocking punch in the trilogy. Many people may watch the trailer and say its a kill bill film all over again but they are very wrong. The movie in my opinion is split in two halfs, the first is like kill bill volume 2 all the funny and twisted dialogue and you are waiting for something big to happen and you is not dispointed. The Moment Geum-Ja con... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djedgeucation at 17:55, 16 February 2006 | Report This Post


Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

If revenge is a dish best served cold then Park Chan-wook has already given us two tasty treats with the bleakly nihilistic y for Mr Vengeancee thrillingly kinetic the tough and cold first two courses, this brighter and more colourful final entry in his vengeance trilogy might be seen as the dessert - literally, in fact, with the beautiful cakes the main character creates becoming a dominant metaphor in the film. Unfortunately y for Lady Vengeancet quite hit the high notes Park's previous effo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Philconcannon at 22:30, 14 February 2006 | Report This Post


The Best Film of 2005?

Spoilers herein. From the very outset Sympathy for Lady Vengeance blazes along with an assurance only available from a filmmaker at the top of his game. Following the smash-hit success of Oldboy Chan-Wook Park closes his revenge trilogy with virtually every cinematic trick at his disposal and a seemingly more mature outlook. Far from the comic book stylings of Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance offers a dimensional human character put into a dark, disturbing situation. The biggest differe... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by directorscut at 15:08, 13 February 2006 | Report This Post


Not as good as Old Boy...

... there… I said it. But an excellent film non-the-less. The first 3/4 are brilliant, but the over-the-top final ¼ almost feels tacked on and coarse, and has a totally different feel to the rest of the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by diablo1000000 at 15:31, 10 February 2006 | Report This Post


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