Saturday, October 01, 2011

Lady Vengeance (Language - Korean) (2005) - Movie Review

“Lady Vengeance” tells about the "kind hearted looking" girl Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young Ae) who did her time in prison for 13 years for a crime she did not commit. Obvious enough she is out there to find the person responsible and get even. While the story is said in one sentence, it is a film with visual melancholic poetry and in the end becomes an odd comic commentary on how people driven by anger, loss, love and of course revenge resort to patient and shocking brutal violence and become realistically selfish and insensitive immediately thereafter. In all this is Lee Geum-ja working through her vengeance for several years and accumulating favours for her final blow.

This is the finale of the Vengeance trilogy director Park Chan-wook delivers. His “Oldboy” is one of a kind story that kept the viewer wondering what is the next violent twist this is going to unravel into. When it did its final blow, this reviewer was not convinced of the validity of the character’s action. Regardless, that is a film with cruelty doing sweet dances and stomps on the hearts and groins. Having that effect, “Lady Vengeance” by me was welcomed with caution and sudden explosion of blood and sickness. Strangely enough it goes through like a gentle stream in a fiery forest.

Park Chan-wook goes for some odd notes in flash back and narration. We see Lee Geum-ja accept her crime of killing a kid and goes through the process of guilt in the prison. With angelic appearance, she resorts for religion and then we see her transform into something else when she gets out. While we are aware of her innocence, there is still that iota of doubt lingering around in her sweet face which tells that there is more to it than her innocence. For her it is a cleansing process and it begins by cutting her finger off in front of the kid’s parents. Soon she makes visit to her fellow cell mates outside and begins to collect her favours. Sometimes it is a simple job or stay and sometimes to a stylish symbolic gun that needs close distance to finish its target. Oh yeah she wants to be close to this man and see his eyes in his last moment of death.

Much of the poeticism comes form the music by Choi Seung-hyun that adds the necessary surreal characteristic and keeps the audience be reminded on the sense of loss Lee Geum-ja carries. Park Chan-wook indulges his camera through the scenic views of a snowy town and then to some dark and deeply disturbing abandoned classrooms to show case his finale.

Overall the film dials down the explicit violence from "Oldboy" but retains the gravity of moral imbalance from it. I always resort to this excuse of being desensitized by putting myself through these films but I do have to say I watched “Drive” and “Antichrist” after this which confirms that I am indeed in the process of being desensitized. “Lady Vengeance” while meditates on the melancholy is quite simple on one thing and that is its title, vengeance.

We see the evil man Mr. Baek played by none other than Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik. He is the sick minded, vile and disturbing teacher. As Lee gets closer and closer to her moment, we learn that Mr. Baek has been watching her too. Throw a mix of estranged daughter of Lee into this and we begin to expect something usual but we are in for a surprise. Park Chan-wook sees revenge and accepts it in a brutal manner for his films. There in itself is the debate but unlike “Oldboy” his target out here is from bones through flesh and skin is a man of nothing but pure evil. He gives a clean go ahead for a conscience free killing. We still think we are going to expect something usual and again he puts in a surprising social experiment. Here we see the ugliness of humans unperturbed by the outcry of the vile nature inside of them.

“Lady Vengeance” is a poetic film and ends bloodily. The violence in it was more of a caricature than seriousness. While I was thoroughly affected, disturbed and disgusted by the ending of “Oldboy”, this film that portrays the rawness of human extremity in clean sense of them strangely did not affect me. I think Park Chan-wook’s comic presentation of the clean up of a murder and not going through the torture fest most of the horror film directors resort now a day made me to see this detached and undisturbed on the decay of human souls.

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