Lady Vengeance Movie Review
The conclusion to Chan-wook Park's revenge trilogy, "Lady Vengeance" is an elegant opera of plotting and revenge. Unfortunately, it's also boring and utterly confusing.
As a huge fan of "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and "Oldboy," Park's extremely dark and violent films about people who find themselves driven over the edge to the point where they become obsessive monsters, I had huge expectations for "Lady Vengeance." Park is a master of storytelling and is able to balance complex stories with violence and a little bit of gore, but "Lady Vengeance" loses that balance and the house of cards comes tumbling down.
"Lady Vengeance" is about a woman named Lee Geum-Ja, who at the age of 19 went to prison for the murder and abduction of a 5-year old boy. She admitted to the crime, but the act was actually performed by a man named Mr. Baek. Upon release from prison, she uses the help of her former prison mates to track down Baek and make him pay for what he did.
There is nothing specifically bad about the way Park so delicately created this story. Each facial expression, each new introduction of a character, each line of dialogue is carefully placed to build up to the film's climax, and for that Park needs to be respected. More so, had I not been tired and lying on my couch and highly anticipating an exciting and violent film, I may have enjoyed "Lady Vengeance" more than I did.
The truth of the matter is that "Lady Vengance" feels extremely long at 112 minutes. Ninety percent of that running length is build up to a fifteen minute finale (does that math add up?), with another ten minutes of dramatic wind-down following. And compared to Park's other films, the dramatic impact of the movie's one violent scene is hardly there. The movie takes so long to get to the point that I was dying for the movie to end - and after the lead character gets her revenge, Park meanders through a bunch of meaningful scenes that are supposed to bring closure, but instead just drag on endlessly.
It also doesn't help that "Lady Vengeance" is hopelessly confusing. Again, this may be a result of me being tired after a long week of work, but "Lady Vengeance" had me confused in multiple locations, and when I read a summary for the film there are key elements that I never even noticed. Hell, I didn't even know if the movie took place in Korea or Japan.
Park jumps around in chronology so much and introduces so many characters that it is hard to keep track of exactly who is who and who is who at what time.
Park's "Lady Vengeance" is a masterpiece of character emotions, but not much else. Long, slow, boring and confusing, the film lacks the coherency and entertainment value of its predecessors.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.