Sympathy for Lady Vengeance ★★★

The final entry to Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy and also my least favourite of the series. Not as if that's saying much though, because I still rather liked it to some degree although it pales in comparison to Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy. Much like the other two films in said trilogy it isn't so much an easy film to stomach but I feel that it pales compared to the other two because there are stretches of time within Lady Vengeance that simply give off a feeling of being tedious as opposed to tense. There are moments where I find myself in awe at what I'm watching in here, I only wish that they had lasted much longer.

Compared to what was offered in the other two films in the Vengeance Trilogy, there's a mood that Park Chan-wook is indeed taking a jab at his previous two films almost in a satirical manner (though he does not fall down to the depths of outright parodying them). Given how Lady Vengeance indeed does feel much lighter when you compare it to how gritty and dark the previous two were, there's a mood being left off that Park isn't taking everything too seriously and he brings the audience to laugh along then and there, and what he does give off works effectively at the very best moments on the screen.

Park Chan-wook's work with characterization is where Lady Vengeance finds its greatest strengths. There's a lot to admire about how Park is doing his very best to establish the motifs for his leading character, Lee Geum-ja, through his use of flashbacks together with a subplot showing her intention to go back to America in order to reunite with her daughter, living as an adopted daughter. Just seeing his means of creating establishment is where, like always, I have been left rather fascinated with the grittiest of Park Chan-wook's films.

Lee Young-ae's performance as the titular Lady Vengeance is stunning, she embodies the femme fatale archetype and as we continue to go deep into her psychology as the film goes on, there's so much more to the range of where this performance can go and ultimately, Lee shines at the very best of her ability. It rather caught me upon her self-identification when Park Chan-wook's contrasting use of colour also goes ahead to create some sort of unique perspective of what she's planning inside of her mind, the angelic qualities she embodies on the outside suddenly turn so grim and that's where the film turns rather gripping.

What took me out of Lady Vengeance in comparison to the other two films was how tedious it felt from time to time. As I've mentioned with Park's intention to create characterization with a subplot involving Lee's younger daughter, I feel there was too much emphasis placed on what grew to add nothing of great significance to the final product. Although I admire Park's intention to create a sense of complete character resolution, I felt as if the note to which the film ended off on just seemed rather anticlimactic and having what already was a rather tedious viewing from time to time certainly didn't help especially when the final moments felt like such a drag to sit through.

Although it's rather disappointing when you compare it to the grittiness that was offered in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance or Oldboy (the latter being my favourite of the trilogy), what's offered in Lady Vengeance is still a fine, albeit sometimes tedious study of character. What did take me in was how the less grim approach almost seemed like it was a means of satirizing what was created in the two preceding films, and on a count of that, it was rather clever. I just wish I didn't feel such a detachment from time to time.

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