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Lady Vengeance Wants Your Sympathy: Review

Updated on August 23, 2012

I’m a fan of revenge flicks. I saw Oldboy some years ago and a friend of mine recommended Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance deals with a woman named Geum-ja Lee and her transformation, as well as her inner conflict. She took the blame for a murder that she didn’t commit, and because of that a child serial killer lived a free life while she spent 13 years behind bars. Her goal is to make him pay for what he did to her and his young victims, but her worst enemy might be her own conscience.

This beautiful and artistic film was a bit slow in some places but the final act brings the movie together very well. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is worth the second watch. This film is symbolic and focuses on colors. In the prison Geum-ja is the only person wearing yellow, yellow means innocence. Note, she isn’t wearing white; she helped the murderer, Mr. Baek kidnap the boy but didn’t kill him, so Geum-ja isn’t completely “pure”. Once out of the prison she starts wearing dark colors and red eyeliner to match her real personality. Geum-ja’s daughter is often seen in white to show that she is pure and hasn’t committed any terrible sins yet.

It’s interesting that Geum-ja can barely communicate with her English speaking daughter. This makes it difficult to reach out to her daughter and make her understand Geum-jas motivations. I can’t think of a deep artistic meaning for their situation. Okay, I’ll try. It could be how Geum-ja can’t reach total redemption for her involvement in the murder.

The final act is my favorite part. It shows that there is a fine line between vengeance and justice. The people deciding the fate of Mr. Baek is swayed in Geum-jas favor through her presentation. I went through many emotions and even had a few laughs near the end of the movie.

In the end, I surprisingly had some sympathy towards the murderer, Mr. Baek. I was trying to hold those emotions back for a person who enjoyed hurting children. He was a broken person, we don’t know the dark places that Mr. Baek has visited. We know what’s Geum-ja story and motivation, but we hardly know anything about Mr. Baek. But I don’t think he was remorseful for his actions, he probably wouldn’t be rehabilitated even if he were given the chance.

The actors were wonderful. Yeong-ae Lee (Geum) does a fantastic job evolving her character, from sweet young woman to cold vengeful woman. Min-sik Choi (Mr. Baek) can do pre-school teacher, abusive husband, and cold blooded killer so well, it’s scary. So far I’ve seen two of the “Revenge Trilogy” series and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” is my favorite one so far. If you have an open mind I highly recommend watching this film.

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