Movie Review: Lady Vengeance (2005)

Posted: November 12, 2016 in Action, Drama


Guem Ja Lee (Yeong Ah Lee) is convicted of killing a small boy, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. The preacher (Byeong  ok-Kim) who championed her release think Guem-Ja is a good woman, but Guem Ja is only interested in revenge.  Guem Ja had a child as a teen named Jenny, (Yea Young Kwon) and while Guem Ja was in prison, a man named Mr. Baek (Min Sik Choi) who Guem Ja also suspects that the man has killed the little boy that she was convicted of killing.  With the help of former prisoners, Guem Ja finds out that the man has killed four other kids along with kidnapping Jenny.  Guem Ja finds Mr. Baek, does she exact her revenge on him.

I was expecting, or maybe hoping that this would be an Asian version of Kill Bill, and maybe Kill Bill inspired this movie, although Lady Vengeance is supposed to be part of a trilogy that began with Oldboy.  This movie could have been as good as Kill Bill, but the story takes too many detours, the viewer sees three or 4 of Guem Ja’s convict friends, and then the viewer sees Guem Ja as a pregnant teen, and Jenny’s subsequent adoption.  After being released from prison the viewer is unnecessarily subjected to Guem Ja’s relationship with a younger man.  All of these subplots were patently unnecessary, as was making Mr. Baek a mass murderer, and involving the grieving families of his victims.

Much of the fault for the many flaws in this movie lies with co-writer and director Chan Wook Park.   He tries to make an arthouse movie out of what should be a simple revenge fantasy.  The problem is that Park seems unable or unwilling to tell a linear story.  His use of flashbacks and dream like sequences muddles what should be a straightforward story.  His camera wanders aimlessly at times, and surrounds each scene with falling snow, as symbolism for purity no doubt.  Guem Ja’s red eye shadow is also prominently displayed, symbolizing her bloody mission, or all the blood she’s already spilled. The pacing is slow and the story is too long.  Park could have edited, to quicken the pace, but didn’t, so the movie limps to a finish.  Tarantino made Kill Bill enjoyable from beginning to end because he understands pacing, Park clearly does not.  I watched Thirst, by Chan Wook Park, and it suffered the same convoluted fate as this movie.

Lady Vengeance:  No day at the Park.


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