I just came from a press screening of the new Park Chanwook film, the third in his revenge-themed trilogy that began with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and continued with Oldboy. Until today the new film was to be known in the United States as Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, but just before my screening Tartan, who is distributing the film domestically, changed the title to just Lady Vengeance.
I suppose they’re trying to avoid confusion with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, which came out in Korea a couple of years ago but just hit the US this summer. Lady Vengeance, which now sounds like a sequel to Lady Marmalade, will be coming to American theaters in early 2006.
The film has played the Toronto Film Festival and will be playing the New York Film Festival, and these are the earliest US screenings. Even the guys I know with uncanny access to Asian bootlegs haven’t seen this thing yet. I will be bringing you a full review fairly soon, but in the meantime I will give you my initial impressions.
Lady Vengeance is quite good, and is in many ways the bleakest film in the trilogy but also perhaps the most optimistic. The story takes a turn in the third act that, while not really a twist, forces you to rethink everything you’ve been feeling throughout the film. Park Chanwook is at the height of his visual powers with this film, and the movie contains flourishes both stunning and kitschy. There’s also a great central performance by Lee Young-ae as the titular Lady Vengeance.
One note – those looking for a film with the same level of violence as Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy will be disappointed, but those looking for a film filled with the same kind of twisty morality issues as those two will surely walk about satisfied.