“Be white, live white, like this”
Lady Vengeance is the concluding part to Park Chan-woo’s incredible Vengeance Trilogy. Possibly the darkest instalment of the trilogy, Lady Vengeance is probably the least violent of the three movies, with a lot of the violence taking place off-screen. Yet the tone of the movie is very bleak, punctuated with moments of jet black humour. Lady Vengeance is closer in tone to Sympathy For Mr Vengeance than it’s predecessor Oldboy. In the hands of a lesser director this movie would be just another revenge film. But with Lady Vengeance Park Chan-woo has created a masterpiece of cinema & a fitting end to his Vengeance Trilogy.
Lady Vengeance is the story of Lee Geum-ja. Released from prison after serving time for the murder of a young boy. Her case was infamous because of her youthful age & innocent appearance at the time of the trial. She is released from prison early having undergone an apparent spiritual transformation resulting in her nickname of “Kind hearted Geum-ja” During her time in prison Geum-ja made several friends through acts of kindness including donating a kidney to one inmate. Geum-ja was innocent of the boy’s murder, she was blackmailed by the boy’s real killer, Mr Baek, who kidnapped & threatened to kill her own newborn daughter unless Geum-ja confessed. Once free Geum-ja’s thoughts turn to her daughter & vengeance on Mr Baek.
I really don’t want to give away too much about this movie. It is such a wonderfully crafted piece of cinema it deserves to be seen knowing as little about it as possible. As is the case with every Park Chan-woo film, Lady Vengeance looks amazing, the cinematography is stunning. There are two versions of the film, one of which slowly blends out the colour as the movie progresses until as the story reaches its conclusion it is completely black & white. The acting is first-rate. Choi Min-sik (Oldboy‘s Oh Dae-su) is suitably vile as Mr Baek & Lee Young Ae is outstanding as Lee Geum-ja. Her character is seemingly cold & emotionless through most of the movie but once her vengeance is done, the weight of her burden is lifted & her emotions are finally allowed to be released. Unlike Oldboy, the conclusion to Lady Vengeance is subtle & thought-provoking but equally as effective. The method of Geum-ja’s vengeance, how it is achieved & her characters emotional arc throughout the film holds you, the viewer captivated. A stunning movie.
If you have read this far I really don’t need to say I recommend this movie. It is a masterpiece, the third instalment of a trilogy of masterpieces. One day everyone will make movies like Park Chan-woo. In my opinion the best filmmaker of his or even any generation. A genius.