Lady Vengeance Park Chan-wook

Good luck to anyone that gets on Park Chan-Wook’s bad side. The Korean director’s tales of victims seeking retribution as exemplified in his trilogy of vengeance is enough to make even the vilest wrongdoers think twice. Following the chilling series of events in the much-heralded Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy (respectively), Lady Vengeance closes off his three-part lesson on savouring a dish best served cold with a feminine touch. After serving a 13-year sentence for the death of a five-year-old boy, the wrongly convicted Geum-ja (Lee Young-ae) sheds her kind-hearted persona and immediately implements her payback plot against the sadistic man that framed her (played by Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik). Recruiting her old inmates to assist her (and telling their distinct stories concurrently), Geum-ja also tracks down the young daughter she was stripped of to make amends. While it’s nowhere near as impulsive and adrenaline pumping as its predecessors, Lady Vengeance is an effective finale because of its differences. There’s no sense of urgency to act out on the vengeful urges and Geum-ja’s laissez faire approach makes her cruel-hearted and premeditated actions all the more vicious — something she encapsulates when asked about her red eye makeup, frostily admitting: "I’m afraid of looking kind.” Park’s climax again provides a discomforting stimulant by setting up an interesting trial for the child killer with the parents of the victims deciding his fate. And yet, as merciless as it sounds, there is an underlying elegance to Geum-ja’s story, largely felt through Park’s magnificent vision, a heartbreaking mother/daughter relationship and Lee’s passive but arresting performance. A "making of” featurette takes the viewer behind the scenes, revealing the copious cameos and showing how even the set of such a solemn film can have its light moments, thanks to Choi’s clownish behaviour. Unfortunately, the advertised Park commentary (listed on the actual special features menu) isn’t functional, nor is the one with him and his art director. Instead, a questionable commentary by Richard Peña, Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center is the sole analysis. However, an interview with Park is a decent alternative, especially when hearing how he compares Geum-ja’s "cold and calculated” vengeance to the two previous instalments. Plus: trailers.