The economy has gone to hell, but you can still afford to splurge on the
latest in High Definition treats. The CHUD Home Entertainment Team has
taken upon themselves to draft the Top 25 Blu-Rays released in Region A
thus far. From the 1st of December until Christmas, we’ll count down to
the greatest Blu-Ray release of all-time. Join us and marvel at the
treasures of the 1080p set.
LIST POSITION: #16
TITLE: The Vengeance Trilogy
DIRECTOR: Chan-wook Park
CAST: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Yeong-ae Lee
- The Process of Mr. Vengeance
- My Boksu Story
- Crew interviews
- Jonathan Ross on Park Chan-wook
- Making The Film – The Cast Remembers
- Production Design
- The Music Score
- CGI Documentary
- Le Grand Prix at Cannes
- Deleted scenes
- “The Autobiography of Oldboy”: 3-hour video diary.
- Making-of featurette
- The Style of Lady Vengeance:
- Deleted scenes with commentary
- Park Chan-wook:
- Character interviews
WHY IT’S ON THE LIST:
The worst part about this set is I’ve now run out of people to show the films to for the first time. These three movies were always my go to for an unplanned movie night, mostly because these films are so unique in how they affect people. Chan-wook’s films are litmus tests and an easy form of psychoanalysis, wrapped up in grandmaster filmmaking. Watching the reactions of someone seeing Oh Dae-su’s story unfold in front of them for the first time is just as exciting as the film itself. It’s a testament to the purity of the cinema in the this set. Few films hit as hard and deep as the films in The Vengeance Trilogy. These films are ‘fuck you, you’re getting punched in the face’ emotional. You don’t go outside and talk about them afterward, you just lived a nightmare and it was great and you need a long time to take it in. But you can’t step back from these films, they involve you and use you. They need a viewer as much as you needed to see them. This set is Cinema, not some passive pretty pictures to show off your new HDTV. Hyperbole? More than likely. But here is the deal, in the world of cinema Park Chan-wook is purely fucking awesome. We shout about our heroes because they do things worth shouting about, and this is a chunk of a filmography worth shouting about. Something that’s important and great. The films aren’t perfect, and the Blu-Ray’s sure as hell aren’t either, but this is a piece of film history and a unique look at a director refining himself.
It’d be easy to talk about the films separately, but this set allows the viewer to see the films as a package. Something that should be done at least once. Every film in belongs in the canon of great films made in the last ten years, but they should be seen as part of their own personal canon and that of great South Korean film too. I’d argue that you get as much value watching these films together as you would from Andrzej Wajda’s The Vengeance TrilogyWar Trilogy, and you’d never just watch A Generation without at least popping in Ashes and Diamonds afterwards anyway.
Park Chan-wook was playing with ideas and themes, evolving and refining his filmmaking in the three years covered here. A lot of the fun in this set is in discovering and watching Chan-wook play with the things that seem to haunt him. Oldboy is most people’s favorite and it only gains when sandwiched between Mister and Missus Vengeance. Lady Vengeance, in particular, gains a lot after a fresh viewing of Oldboy. It’s the type of film that doesn’t seem like a giant leap forward, but it’s a much more sympathetic and gentle film than the ones before it. Humanism is all over Chan-wook’s work though, and it’s the glowing theme beaming throughout this set. These characters, and the whole universe of characters around them, are universal. They maybe aren’t the kind of people you see in everyday life, but you know why they do what they do. Only when Chan-wook wants you to know, because motive and drive is a major theme of Chan-wook’s. But even with the major twists and turns the plots take, nothing feels forced or fake. There are no bad guys or good guys. These are people living within the frame, doing much more than just being there to tell the audience a story. Sympathy, and love, for these characters comes naturally. If you walk away not understanding a single character in these films, you’re watching them wrong.
Chan-wook’s evolution as a director is a subtle one. Mr. Vengeance is just as strong a film as Lady Vengeance, but Chan-wook has a much firmer grip on genre and conventions by the time he gets to film three. Oldboy may be the most experimental film in the set, the visually arresting side scrolling fight is still the best argument for video games influencing actual art, but Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is just as big an experiment for the director. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance delves deep and downward into a large cast of characters using classic film techniques in a subtly perverse way. He’s testing emotional waters, and he’s already more than capable using the language of film. The big reveals in Oldboy are perfect, brutal, and everything they should be, but they don’t come close to fucking up your cognitive thought process like the stomach dropping P.O.V. of the young girl sinking into the lake in Mr. Vengeance. It’s more honest than brutal, but it hits deeper than any moment of Oldboy. Lady Vengeance has the fade to white version, a melancholy blanket over the film that never feels like a gimmick. It’s just another tool for Chan-wook to draw us into his world and, more importantly, characters. Chan-wook never plays around with the audience for experimentations sake.These films are solid, in every sense of the word. Not a frame or beat is wasted, every moment is precise and exact in it’s intention and execution. These are films that reward and deserve multiple viewings.
WHY IT DIDN’T RANK HIGHER:
Tartan screwed up Oldboy. Really bad. The transfer is weak and grainy, and in complete contrast to how amazing the other two transfers are. The packaging also claims a DTS-HD 7.1 mix is included with Oldboy, something the standalone disc had, but instead it comes with a Dolby Digital EX 5.1 mix in it’s place. Very screwy, as the other films get lossless DTS-HD 5.1 tracks. It’s a shame, because Oldboy is going to be the reason most people pick up this set. The transfer on Oldboy has never looked the best over here, but Tartan really dropped the ball by excluding a lossless track that already existed. The other films look and sound fantastic, and Oldboy is still a huge upgrade from an SD disc, but it’s a huge disappointment in an otherwise Grade A set.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENT:
The Autobiography of Oldboy is three and half hours of behind the scenes bliss. Some people may find it’s lack of focus and length a chore, but for anyone interested in filmmaking it’s one of the best supplements on the format. It’s a fly on the wall ldok at production, with only a few instances of people talking to the camera. It’s a peak into Chan-wook’s process, and definitely worth spending the time to watch. The rest of the extras are carried over from various older releases of the films. Each film has at least one commentary, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance gets one while the other two get three. Plenty of interviews and making of’s round out the discs.
It’s decided. We don’t tip the waitress. Madonna was singing about dick. Eddie Bunker is still dead.
Love and Other Wasteful Luxuries of the West.
The suitcase wasn’t a horcrux, dumbass.
The worst Chat Roulette session ever.