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Tragic 1 Star

Kang-ho Song
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Ji-eun Lim.
Chan-Wook Park.
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Sympathy For Mr Vengeance
A bizarrely convoluted story from the director of Korea's first bona-fide blockbuster.

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A deaf mute gets mixed up in organised crime when he tries to procure a kidney for his dying sister.

Park's last film, JSA, was the first true Korean blockbuster and a powerfully simple tale of national division and attempted (symbolic) reunification. His much anticipated follow-up film, which reunites several of his favourite actors, utilises many of the same aesthetic ticks and tricks; but while JSA employed symmetrical compositions as political symbolism, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance feels more like 'art for art's sake'.

The story of a deaf mute who becomes involved in illegal organ transplants, kidnapping, murder and worse is as bizarrely convoluted as it sounds and, whilst open to wide interpretation, it is often hard to summon up the will to care. Bloody and brutal, but wholly lacking compassion, it can only be assumed that the title is intended as deeply ironic. This is but an average film from a potentially great director.


Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Released: 01 December 2003
Calling an assembly of B-roll and raw interviews a ‘making of’ is a bit misleading; plus the usual trailers, filmographies and notes.

This is but an average film from a potentially great director.

Reviewed by Justin Bowyer

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sympathy For Mr Vengeance
Empire Star Rating

Fair. Having daughters myself, this was heart wrenching in moments. However, it amounted to nothing more than a drag to watch with very little redeeming qualities. Simply "ok", nothing more. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Turd Ferguson at 16:48, 29 December 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance

I think 3 stars, while arguably harsh, is more or less accurate. The whole film has a very apparent exploitationist edge with some oddballish type characters, around which is created this huge tragedy.  It's solid, but I don't think it's necessarily exceptional, either in terms of script or execution.  There was some interesting cinematography in certain places, and a few moments of genuine character sympathy, but not enough to be a truly outstanding film. ... More

Posted by max314 at 19:55, 29 December 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance

Thought this was an excellent film, can't believe the 3 star review; typical of Empire really. ... More

Posted by mackey at 22:58, 28 December 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance

Yup, should have been 4 stars. ... More

Posted by fuzbucket mutant at 13:45, 24 December 2007 | Report This Post


3 stars is crazy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:15, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


3 stars is crazy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:15, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post

RE: What, no user reviews yet?

I saw this in the cinema a few years back, and to be honest I thought it was a load of guff.  I'm a big fan of oldboy, but this was nonsensical bollocks.  It picked up a bit at the end with the ankle slicing but it was just confusing and boring for the sake of it. ... More

Posted by sngroover at 12:03, 31 August 2007 | Report This Post

RE: What, no user reviews yet?

I agree that its a fans film. Its still very strong and you can see how elements were borrowed for Oldboy. The films a tad long and could do with 30mins being shorn off to make the film tighter, much like the other 'vengeance' films. ... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 11:01, 24 August 2007 | Report This Post

What, no user reviews yet?

In short, this film packs more originality and memorable sceneage in it than a summer full of boringwood blockbusters. It's not a jaw-dropper like Park's oldboy but is still heartily recommended for film fans rather than movie-watchers. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dhollseed at 00:47, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post

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