Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Don’t mess with the best, cos the best don’t mess

Damn, I feel like I've been saying that I'm going to review Sympathy for Mr Vengeance forever, and now that I've actually come to do it, I don't know where to start. All I can think is I'm watching too many films to keep up with these reviews (such as they are). Still, never one to give up, I shall carry on regardless.

This 2002 film is the first part of the Vengeance Trilogy by South Korean director Park Chan-wook, the subsequent parts being Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. That said, to the best of my knowledge they are a trilogy in the theme of vengeance only and are not linked by story.

The synopsis: At this point I must come clean and say I've lifted this from elsewhere on the Web. The reason I've done this is that I fell asleep a couple of times in the first half of the movie. "A deaf mute worker saves all his money for his sister who requires a kidney transplant. He has the wrong blood type to be able to donate one of his kidneys, so he arranges a trade with a group of organ dealers: one of his kidneys, and 10 million Won, in return for their finding a kidney for his sister. They renege, but a legitimate kidney becomes available for transplant. Unfortunately, he no longer has the 10 million Won required for the hospital to perform the operation. He and his girlfriend, a terrorist seeking to change how the poor are treated in Korea, kidnap his former boss's daughter. But events spiral quickly out of control..."

The review: Now, let me say this: I don't often fall asleep in movies. And when I do it's often indicative of my tiredness rather than the quality of the film. I did manage to kick myself back into shape for the second half, and I did go back later to see what I'd missed, so I'm pretty sure I've now seen it all, albeit not necessarily in the right order! That means I still feel perfectly justified in having an opinion.

This film was not, ultimately, as interesting as Oldboy, especially in the early scenes. Where Oldboy went straight for action from the get-go, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance first set up an elaborate plot. It's not a confusing plot, just perhaps a tad unnecessarily long in the telling. There are some great scenes, though, even in this first half, especially the point where you know it's all going to go tits-up. Then, once the action kicks in, it's pretty much mayhem all the way, and no one is safe. As you might expect, it's pretty grisly and violent in places, but there is also a good amount of dark humour spattered throughout. It was certainly entertaining.

The numbers: Pending a second viewing, and given that it didn't prevent me from falling asleep in the first half, I'm going to give this 58. (As a point of reference, I would probably rate Oldboy at around low to mid-70s.)

Coming up next: The Football Factory and The Sea Inside.


Blogger Red said...

He had to give the evil organ dealers a kidney AND 10 million Won?! That's a lousy deal by anyone's standards. I think I'll stick to Dirty Pretty Things...

23 August, 2006 08:17  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

football factory. good. save me the job.
"jog on. you sigh!"
are you going to include translations?
and an explanation of football hooliganism?
danny dyer for jimmy in a remake of quadrophenia anyone?
by the way, have you seen green street? want to know if thats worth it.

23 August, 2006 08:36  
Blogger Tanya said...

Doesn't sound like my kind of thing, I'm afraid.

How come you use a scoring system based on 1-100? I am curious, because I just use a scale of 1-5.

23 August, 2006 13:01  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Red: It is a lousy deal! Oh well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Cappy: Translations, no. Explanations, no. Remake of Quadrophenia, ummm. Not seen Green Street. That's the one with Frodo, isn't it? Might watch it one day; looks interesting, ish.

Tanya: The 100-point system just allows me more accuracy, as I see it. And of course it has the added benefit of making me look like a poncey wanker who actually puts some thought into this. I do feel that any scoring system of fewer than 10 points seems a bit arbitrary, though.

23 August, 2006 15:48  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

well theres the thing. i was asking because someone told me it was poor, and i wanted a second opinion.

24 August, 2006 08:53  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy: Don't know. I assume you've seen it then?

24 August, 2006 15:27  

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