Sympathy for Mr Vengeance

You would have to go all the way back to Robert Aldrich at his most grotesque to match this Korean ‘kidnap gone wrong’ movie for intensity, cynicism, and sheer balls-out bravado. Mind you, while it’s not quite gore a-go-go like Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer, it’s frequently, quite literally, stomach churning. Deaf and dumb Ryu (Shin) is screwing revolutionary agitator Young-Mi (Bae), and is so devoted to his older sister that he sells his kidney on the black market in a desperate deal to get her a life-saving transplant. They rip him up and rip him off. Young-Mi comes up with a better plan: they will ‘borrow’ the young daughter of the capitalist boss who fired him (Song) and raise funds that way. Fine in theory. In practice, well, let’s just say: Don’t expect laughs. But do expect myriad scenes of torture and death, visual and aural invention, some narrative confusion and implausibility, political overtones, and an overwhelming cruelty as psychological as it is physical.

Release details

Rated: 18
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Park Chan-Wook
Screenwriter: Lee Moo-Young, Lee Yong-Jong, Park Ridame
Cast: Song Kang-Ho
Shin Ha-Gyun
Bae Du-Na
Im Ji-Eun
Han Bo-Bae
Kim Se-Dong
Lee Dae-Yeon
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