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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is there any good in this film?
People seem to make some strange mistakes when watching films like this one. They expect to leave the cinema e.t.c feeling great, with a sense of closure and fulfilment, and this therefore makes a good film. Why should this be?

This is not a nice film. You will leave this feeling tired and weary and thinking "why couldn't it have been different...?" You have to...
Published on 2 July 2006 by J. Delaney

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3.0 out of 5 stars A challenging tale of fate
I rented this purely on the strength of director 'Chan-wook Parks' superb 2003 film 'Old Boy', but where as 'Old Boy' is an intense, fast paced and stylish film, 'Sympathy for Mr Vengeance' is a far more slowly paced and bleak affair. Though the first part of 'Chan-wook Parks' revenge trilogy, (with 'Old Boy' the second, and 'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance' the last),...
Published on 4 July 2010 by Ernie


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is there any good in this film?, 2 July 2006
By 
J. Delaney (London) - See all my reviews
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People seem to make some strange mistakes when watching films like this one. They expect to leave the cinema e.t.c feeling great, with a sense of closure and fulfilment, and this therefore makes a good film. Why should this be?

This is not a nice film. You will leave this feeling tired and weary and thinking "why couldn't it have been different...?" You have to look pretty hard to find someone being nice. You have a tragic kidnapper who cannot hear or speak, and a father who will do anything for his child, I ended up feeling sorry for everyone! This is a grim portrayal of life, and you will not come to the end of this film with an affirmation of all life's goodness. With this said, IT IS A GREAT FILM! Everything is done well, the acting and directing is not quite on par with Oldboy but I believe it is a fitting part of Park Chan-Wook's revenge trilogy. Beware, though, this is not 'lovey dovey' cinema. It's a show of how unkind life can be.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grips you like a vice. Hits you like a ton of bricks., 22 Sep 2006
By 
Inspector Gadget "Go Go Gadget Reviews" (On the trail of Doctor Claw) - See all my reviews
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Before you watch this film, just be aware that you're not going to walk away from it with a big smile on your face. More like you'll want to slit your wrists. To say that Mr. Vengeance is a powerful, gut-wrenching nightmare is like saying that DaVinci merely dabbled in art.

The plot is so simple yet so complex. The direction is so elegant yet so hard-hitting. The simplistic nature of the story makes the descent into hell so shocking and captivating. You don't realize there is no going back until it's far, FAR too late.

Ryu is a deaf/mute who works in the loudest factory in the world, doing a really depressing job. His sister needs a kidney transplant, but they don't have the money to pay for it. He cannot give her one of his own because their blood types do not match. Ryu decides to go to black market organ traders to trade one of his own for one that matches his sister. Waking up naked and kidney-less in an abandoned building he now needs to raise money for his own kidney.

Ryu is now fired from his job by President Park, who is downsizing the company. His anarchist girlfriend Yeong-mi convinces him to kidnap Park's daughter and hold her to ransom. From then on, things get very, very, VERY heavy and the idea of who exactly Mr. Vengeance is is blurred and sympathy is felt for almost everyone. Revenge comes at a high price and seemingly never ends. Not that I am saying forgiving and forgetting is the way. But this movie will make you think twice about getting your own back.

The violence is spontaneous and extremely graphic without ever feeling exploitational. Sometimes it has a darkly comic feel to it, the rest of the time it's goddamn hardcore. You'll wince a great deal during this movie, that's for damn sure.

Park Chan-wook directs with such beautifully composed images that are far from the the garish MTV-style action/thriller movies produced in Hollywood these days. I don't want to sound like some sort of snob who proclaims all foreign films to be great and all Hollywood to be crap but it's not very often that Hollywood makes a film like this unless it's a remake. Written in a mere 20 hours in a single massive, creative outburst, this movie seems to have genius laced through every minute of it's running time.

Not a date movie, not a whogivesadamn pig-out movie. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a film you will be sucked right into and you'll be far from happy when you emerge at the end. But what a horrific ride!

The DVD is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby/DTS 6.1 sound.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, terse, brutal but wonderfully filmed, 12 Jan 2005
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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As is so often the case with truly challenging cinema I couldn't make up my mind wether I liked this film or not. It started slowly, enveloping the viewer in the torpid misery of its characters and even when things started to develop it never really changed pace although the plot became bleaker and so unremittingly dark that it occurred to me it may be a pitch black comedy. It could never be classed as entertainment but is grimly fascinating and as a moral lesson in the futility of violence and the intractable way acts of vengeance have a relentless cyclic effect it is possibly one of the finest I've seen.
What however really makes this film stand out is the stylish direction and cinematography, and the wonderful composition of some the scenes. Even the moments when the characters aren't really doing anything, and there are a lot of those, carry a real beauty to them. Wandering down a stone flanked alley half in light, half in shade or trudging agonisingly through rippling water trailing plumes of blood every scene has something to admire and should you find the narrative too terse and the plot too grim just let the ravishing visuals assault your senses.
So while not a film I enjoyed in the normal sense of the word Sympathy for Mr Vengeance is a film I'd recommend anybody see at least once. I'd even watch it again...just not right away.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic film, certainly the equal of Oldboy, 18 Jan 2006
Unfortunately overshadowed by the equally superb Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr Vengence is a brilliantly bleak film charting the apparent futility of existence in a modern South Korea. This film is surely a modern tragedy of the best Shakespearean pedigree; After being fired from his factory job during a business 'streamlining' exerise (deftly showing the contempt of modern society for anyone considered remotely unproductive) Ryu a deaf mute can no longer afford to pay for his sister to have a kidney transplant. His fate is sealed from the moment he tries to sell one of his kidneys to black market organ traders in exchange for one that will save his ailing sister, who take the money he was paying them and one of his kidneys leaving him for dead in a multistory car park. His path to hell truly is paved with good intentions as he becomes ever more desperate to save his sister he kidnaps a the daughter of the man who recently fired him from the factory he had been working in, yet he and his sister develop a touching relationship with the girl who drowns accidentally in the same lake that Ryu and his sister spent their childhood playing in whilst Ryu is burying the body of his sister who despite his best efforts he failed to save. The film deals with among other things the plight of those left behind by the explosion of prosperity that Korea experienced in the last 20 years. Another theme is that of disability whether it is emotional, physical, mental or social affects all the characters, they all experience some form of social alienation as a result and it is this alientation that is at the root of the terrible events that unfold.
What separates the films of Park Chan-wook from other directors in the so called 'extreme' genre of modern asian cinema is the way in which he uses violence not simply for violence's sake; racking up the body count as some directors do (at times there seems to be a clandestine competition going on to see who can kill the most people in a film) but as a method of totally engaging the audience in the films. Like Oldboy this is not, by the standards of the genre at least a particularly violent film which makes the very short episodes of violence all the more explosive and jaw dropping when taken against the wonderfully composed emotional drama of the characters struggle against both the futility of their own actions and an uncaring society that has forced the protaganists onto this doomed course. Particularly effective is the scene where Ryu visits his revenge upon the black marketeers who stole his kidney, you really can feel every blow of the baseball bat as he caves in the heads of his adversaries. The violence is totally effective, there is no question of becoming numb to it as can happen in some films you feel every single blow and smell every drop of blood.
The film is well written staying away from cliched quasi intellectualism or philosophising in the dialogue yet conveying a strong moral and political message. It is sumptuously shot much in the same style as Oldboy although not quite as polished and in terms of production values it feel at times like a low budget film, however this only adds to the brutal reality of the movie. It is a must see film and whether you like asian cinema or not it has a really universal appeal it deals with the issues of alienation that we have all experienced directly or indirectly and accomplishing it in a novel manner. Park Chan-Wook truly is one of the brightest and most challenging directors around regardless of nationality or genre.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First and Foremost, 11 Feb 2005
Park has reached a wider audience with his subsequent Oldboy yet this film is arguably the better of the two. There is still a third in his series of vengeance movies to come, so it could still be topped!
The film is profoundly unsettling in parts, yet this isn't because of excessive violence. In fact, there's not much of it compared to more mainstream fare. It's just that you feel it even when it takes place off camera. Whereas Oldboy has you identify with its main protagonist and his struggles, Sympathy makes you feel for each of its characters and the pain they suffer and the suffering they then inflict. There's a tenderness to this film not present in Oldboy as well as a political bite to its portrayal of South Korean life.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, 25 Jun 2006
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This film was a very good watch. It draws you in and then keeps you completely hooked. What I found so brilliant about the film was that at first I was not sure what to expect and I suspected that it was going to be a lot more light hearted than it turned out to be. It could have been depressing but the skilled way in which the subject matter is dealt with is absolutely fantastic and means that far from being depressing the film is hynotic and thought provoking.
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<br />The film raises a question, amongst many, of 'when, if ever, is seeking vengence justified'.
<br />
<br />I loved this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warmup!, 4 Feb 2005
Perhaps not as grand as Oldboy, but nevertheless, visually captivating. As per usual with Korean acting, it's faultless! The dialogue is hillarious, which aids a plot that will keep you captivated to the conlcusion.
Park likes blood, so it might put of the light hearted but personally I think this is a perfect warm up session for his masterpeice Oldboy.
For those into Park,I recommend JSA. Its quite different to alot of his work since its focussed primarily on the tensions between North and South Korea, but despite tackiling a sensitive issue, he manages to make a film that will challenge most.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, 4 May 2005
By 
A. Chapman "gutteral69" (St. ives, Cambs) - See all my reviews
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Sympathy For Mr Venegence is the first in Park Chan-Wooks vengence trilogy the second being Oldboy and the third will be called Sympathy For Lady Vengence. I bought this film after hearing good reviews and also after I saw oldboy. The story is about a deaf mute guy who needs to raise cash for his sister so she can get an operartion to save her life, after failing to do this he and his anarchic girlfriend decide to kidnap his bosses daughter for the ransom money, then it all goes wrong. The film touches on a lot of subjects such as the struggle of being made redundant, class difference,the loss of loved ones, black market organ trading, lonelyness and of course the main theme, vengence. It is beautifully shot with a huge amount of style and has great acting, it changes from surrealness to real human emotion to ultraviolence, it doesn't reach the heights of Oldboy but it is still a very well made film. The extras on the collectors edition are ok theres really only the behind the scenes featurette and directors commentary on there which are worth a look.
If you like Oldboy buy this.
This is a great film and should be given a look
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This might test your patience but Parks film is worthy of your time, 16 Aug 2007
By 
Asians excel at horror because, not having to pander to Hollywood's rules, they can take you anywhere at all. For all this filmed was billed as a gory horror, violence was minimal, and certainly not gratuitous, but man......it was good when it happened!

The film revolves around the lives of a deaf-mute and his sister who requires a kidney transplant. A kidnap attempt to raise money goes tragically wrong, and much blood-letting ensues. The ending makes me wince to this day. My only quandary with Park is that he holds certain scenes too long. He needs more discipline in the editing room. Green hair playing with the little girl for ten minutes or burying a body for another ten minutes while a very annoying device character and a mentally challenge kid of some sort wanders about causing mayhem, I started to look at my watch. It all comes together in a blood bath of revenge.

The performances all around were decent. I liked Du-Na-Bae and felt she was lively and interesting; Ha-kyun Shin also did well considering he had no lines to speak of. However Song was a mystery to me, he only had one moment (the one that I have already mentioned) where I felt he did something worthy of note, the rest of the time his was a non-performance. Aside from him, I think everyone was OK but that the material and the delivery just wasn't there to support them.

"Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" is a very interesting take on Korean revenge mythology and modern society. But what that take is I'm not sure. This one is necessary for film aficionados, just for the camera set-ups and stunning color. I also think that this film delivers an important message. To exact vengeance on someone because you are hurting only makes more people hurt, and it doesn't stop yours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 18 Oct 2008
By 
Mr. A. Mahony (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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Don't usually write reviews but felt a great sense of injustice at the rating it had. Anyone who liked Oldboy will like this equally, anyone who has not seen it is in for a treat. The production and direction is beautiful, the subject shocking and compelling, and the storyline keeps twisting and turning keeping you on the edge of your seat.

The only reason people are giving it mediocre reviews is that they love Oldboy so much and are comparing it to Oldboy. If Oldboy had never been made everyone would bang on about this film instead. The vengeance trilogy is my favourite trilogy ever. All 3 films are breathtaking, I can't reccomend them highly enough unless you are adverse to violence.
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Sympathy For Mr Vengeance [Blu-ray]
Sympathy For Mr Vengeance [Blu-ray] by Chan-Wook Park (Blu-ray - 2010)
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