The final entry in Park Chan-Wook’s masterful ‘Vengeance Trilogy’, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is perhaps the most introspective, tragic and beautiful film of the trilogy.
Exactingly paced and gorgeously lensed, Lady Vengeance weaves surreal, dream-like aesthetics and affecting cinematic lyricism into an elegant, intoxicating swirl of uncompromisingly brutal, traumatic violence and moral ambiguity never truly explored to the same passion as the previous two. The vivid motifs of snow and blood, conjoined with the astonishing central performance of Lee Young-ae as Lee Geum-ja and the stirring juxtaposition of classical music, lead the way towards a riveting, chaotic noir-esque narrative strung together in a maze of discordant memories and empty retribution, without forgoing a slight, but consistently efficacious humour, as dark and macabre as it is. Lady Vengeance rewards patience with a jaw-droppingly grim and complexly emotional finale to complete and, in the process, complicate its already lofty, dense themes of revenge, hatred and love; bookended perfectly with a touching and genuinely cathartic expression towards redemption.
As yet another masterpiece from the distinctive Park Chan-wook, Lady Vengeance deservedly earns its place at the forefront of the New Korean Wave of films alongside the rest of its ilk.