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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance(2002)
A deaf-mute man, Ryu, works in a smelting factory and inhabits his own silent world, oblivious to the din both at work and in his downscale apartment building. He idolizes his sister, who urgently needs a kidney transplant, and when he's laid off and then tricked out of his savings by organ traffickers, his wacko girlfriend, Yeong-mi, suggests kidnapping his former boss's daughter to pay for his sister's operation. Yeong-mi sees it as social revenge. Ryu, initially scared of the consequences, finally agrees after seeing another laid-off worker attempt hara- kiri outside the boss's home. After kidnapping the boss's daughter, their whole plan starts to quickly unravel with horrible consequences.
For more about Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray release, see the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 14, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Shin Ha-kyun, Bae Doona, Song Kang-ho
Director: Park Chan-wook
» See full cast & crew
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 14, 2009
The first film from Korean director Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy, "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" (2002) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of UK-based distributors Palisades Tartan. Amongst the supplemental features on the disc are: a making of; crew interviews; storyboards and more. English-friendly. Region-B "locked".
Korean director Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a cold and uncharacteristically brutal film about desperate people committing desperate acts of violence. The film has a lot of the same overtones one would encounter in the films of American director Quentin Tarantino, but is far from being a shameless copycat. Still, plenty of the graphic violence in it is as pointless as that promoted by Tarantino.
Here's the plot: A deaf mute, Ryu (Shin Ha-Kyun, The Devil's Game), who has just been fired from his job, is desperately trying to find a way to help his sister (Lim Ji-Eun, Girl Scout) who needs a kidney transplant. Because his blood type does not match that of his sister, and therefore he cannot give her one of his kidneys, he begins searching for a donor. Ryu approaches a group of organ dealers who promise to help him, but gets cheated - the dealers steal his money as well as one of his kidneys.
Realizing that time is running out, Ryu and his girlfriend, who is involved with a secret terrorist organization, kidnap the daughter of his ex-boss, Park Dong-jin (Song Kang-ho, The Good, The Bad, The Weird); with the ransom money, they plan to buy a kidney for Ryu's sister. While they wait for the money to be delivered, however, something terrible happens - the little girl drowns. Her father goes berserk and vows to have Ruy killed.
It is not easy to like the main protagonists in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Even though for awhile it seems like they are all good people - at least during the first half of the film their intentions are noble - they are actually as evil as those who punish them. And this is precisely why Park's film is so unique; it twists all the familiar cliches about good and evil that we have come to expect from mainstream cinema in a fairly entertaining fashion.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance clearly lacks the visual finesse of the other two films in director Park's "Vengeance Trilogy", Oldboy (2003) and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005). This is a rough and notably minimalist film, certain parts of which look as if they have been taken straight out of a documentary feature about psychopathic murderers.
Many of the film's disturbingly violent scenes have been injected with subtle dark humor that makes them slightly easier to endure. Still, quite a few come off as purely exploitative. Elsewhere in the film, there are scenes that are supposed to be funny - such as the one where a group of young boys are seen masturbating together - but look depressing.
The dialog in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is kept to an absolute minimum, and some of the most effective scenes in the film are precisely the ones where the main protagonists are seen alone, struggling with their emotions.
The acting is strong. Song Kang-ho and Shin Ha-kyun are very convincing in front of the camera. The quiet but dramatic character transformation the former undergoes, in particular, is terrifically captured by director Park's camera.
Cinematographer Kim Byeong-il, however, is certainly not as convincing as Chung Chung-hoon (Oldboy; Sympathy for Lady Vengeance; Thirst).
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.31:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of UK-based distributors Palisades Tartan.
Aside some from some mild edge-enhancement popping up here and there, the transfer for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance looks lovely. Fine object detail is excellent, contrast levels consistent, and clarity pleasing throughout the entire film. Sharpness levels, particularly during the daytime footage, are excellent. The color-scheme does not disappoint either; blues, browns, blacks, whites and especially the greens look great. There are no signs of excessive filtering. There are no stability issues to report either. Also, unlike Tartan's SDVD release of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, which suffered from some heavy macroblocking, this high-definition release looks notably healthy. Finally, I did not detect any annoying flecks, scratches, debris, cuts, or warps to report in this review. To sum it all up, this is a fine Blu-ray release that should please most, if not all, fans of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free player in order to access its content).
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. For the record, Palisades Tartan have provided optional white English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is not likely to test the muscles of your audio system; surround activity is extremely limited and the bass comes alive only a couple of times throughout the entire film. Nevertheless, there are quite a few subtle audio effects that are enhanced quite well by the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (for example, the electrocution). On the other hand, the dialog is crisp, clean and exceptionally easy to follow. Finally, I did not hear any pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Process of Mr. Vengeance - a standard making of featurette during which cast members are seen rehearsing and commenting on specific scenes. Director Park also discusses the message of his film, some of the technical difficulties he and his team had to overcome, etc. In Korean, with optional English subtitles. (33 min).
My Boksu Story - Retrospective - actor Song Kang-ho recalls his collaboration with director Park on Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, how he prepared for the character he was asked to play, how some of the more challenging scenes in the film were shot, etc. In Korean, with optional English subtitles. (18 min).
Crew Interviews - a collage of very informative interviews with director Park and members of his tech crew where they discuss what was their vision for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, the unique characters in the film, how specific scenes were shot, etc. In Korean, with optional English subtitles. (41 min).
Storyboards - (10 min).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In Korean, with imposed English subtitles. (2 min).
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Palisades Tartan deserve a lot of credit for releasing all three films from Korean director Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy on Blu-ray - they look great! I personally cannot wait to see what they would do with his latest film, Thirst. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Blu-ray bundles with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2 bundles)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance to Get a Remake - May 20, 2013
Lorenzo di Bonaventura's di Bonaventura Pictures and South Korean juggernaut CJ Entertainment have teamed up with Lotus Entertainment and Silver Reel to produce an English-language remake of acclaimed director Park Chan-wook's bloody thriller Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance ...
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