Lady Vengeance Park Chan-wook

I suppose everybody (by which I mean critics, film buffs, Quentin Tarantino, etc.) has been blowing this Park Chan-wook thing out of proportion. He’s not a major director and his revenge trilogy is more evidence of sadism than an exploration of same, but damn if the boy can’t deliver some arrestingly violent horse puckey that you have to love just for being so awful.

So it comes to pass that his final panel in the triptych gives us a woman jailed for a murder she didn’t commit, and inventing an elaborate series of alliances and obligations so that she can emerge from prison 15 years later to deliver the guilty party into rough justice.

Our heroine proves just as intransigent as the hero of Park’s Oldboy, and though her film doesn’t have the conceptual punch of the earlier one’s Beckett nightmare she still has a dizzying amount of double-crosses and emotional entanglements to keep things interesting. That people wind up dead goes without saying, and the whole thing culminates in a confrontation between the killer and the parents of his victims that’ll have you squirming.

As with previous instalments, the film doesn’t so much involve you emotionally as violate you viscerally — you’ll feel the knife in your chest more than the lump in your throat, and walk out feeling assaulted rather than moved. But there’s no denying the extreme sports thrill to be had from Park’s death-defying acts against body and mind, and that they keep you appalled and slaphappy throughout the nearly-two-hour running time.

Expect nothing but accelerated pulp and you’ll have a whale of a time just trying to stay alive. (Alliance Atlantis)