Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Rated R 2005

The first part of Korean director Chanwook Park's "Vengeance" trilogy (which continues in Oldboy), Mr. Vengeance initially centers on Ryu, a deaf-mute foundry worker with sea-green hair, who supports a sister who needs a new kidney in order to survive. Lured by the prospect of an illicit trade of his own kidney for a suitable donor's, he finds himself mugged, naked, and missing an organ with nothing to show for it. Egged on by his girlfriend, Ryu hatches a plan to kidnap the 10-year-old daughter of the man who has just fired him, Park Dong-jin. Naturally, things go horribly wrong, and the film ultimately switches perspectives, following Dong-jin's story rather than Ryu's, though of course the two are intertwined and destined to bring closure to one another in the most horrifying manner possible. A problem with Park's naturalistic worldview is that it's hard to find anyone to root for. The movie is beautiful to look at, but hideous in its narrative.

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