Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Korean: 복수는 나의 것; RR: Boksuneun Naui Geot; lit. "Vengeance Is Mine") is a 2002 South Korean thriller film directed and co-written by Park Chan-wook. The film stars Shin Ha-kyun as Ryu, a young, deaf-mute factory worker trying to earn enough money for his sister's kidney transplant by holding the daughter of a wealthy man for ransom, and the path of vengeance that follows when the plan goes awry. Alongside Ha-kyun, the film's cast includes Song Kang-ho, Bae Doona, Han Bo-bae, and Im Ji-eun.
|Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance|
|Hangul||복수는 나의 것|
|Hanja||復讐는 나의 것|
|Revised Romanization||Boksuneun Naui Geot|
|McCune–Reischauer||Poksunŭn Naŭi Kŏt|
|Directed by||Park Chan-wook|
|Produced by||Im Jin-gyu|
|Written by||Park Chan-wook|
|Music by||Baik Hyun-jhin|
|Edited by||Kim Sang-bum|
TMS Entertainment/Seoul Movie
|Distributed by||CJ Entertainment|
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance did not fare well commercially upon its initial release in South Korea, and has garnered mixed reviews. Despite this, it won several awards. It is the first installment in director Chan-wook's thematic Vengeance Trilogy, and is followed by Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005).
Ryu is a deaf-mute man who works in a factory. His ailing sister is in desperate need of a kidney transplant, but Ryu's is not a match. After he loses his job, Ryu contacts a group of black market organ dealers to exchange one of his kidneys for one that his sister can use. However, the dealers disappear after taking Ryu's kidney and severance money.
A legitimate kidney donor is found, but after having been conned by the organ dealers, Ryu is unable afford the operation. To raise money, Yeong-mi, Ryu's radical anarchist girlfriend, suggests kidnapping the daughter of the executive that fired Ryu. They observe the executive with company president Park Dong-jin arriving at the latter's home one day, where one of Dong-jin's employees, Peng, attempts to commit harakiri in front of them. Ryu and Yeong-mi change their plan, deciding to kidnap Dong-jin's young daughter Yu-sun.
Yu-sun stays with Ryu's sister, who believes that Ryu is babysitting her. Ryu and Yeong-mi send a request for ransom to Dong-jin, and he obliges. Upon returning home with the ransom money, Ryu discovers that his sister learned that Yu-sun was kidnapped, and committed suicide.
Ryu takes Yu-sun and his sister's body to a riverbed they frequented as children to bury her. Distracted by the burial and unable to hear, Ryu is unaware when Yu-sun slips into the river, and she drowns. After Yu-sun's body is discovered by authorities, a deeply mournful Dong-jin hires an investigator to find her kidnappers. Dong-jin finds Ryu's sister's corpse by the riverbed, interacts with a mentally disabled man who witnessed Ryu burying his sister, and begins to piece together the identities of Ryu and Yeong-mi.
Ryu, armed with a baseball bat, locates the organ traffickers and murders them, receiving a stab wound in the process. Meanwhile, Dong-jin finds Yeong-mi and tortures her with electricity, also killing a deliveryman who comes to her apartment. She apologizes for Yu-sun's death but warns Dong-jin that her terrorist friends will kill him if she dies. Unfazed, Dong-jin electrocutes her to death. Ryu returns to Yeong-mi's apartment and sees the police removing her corpse.
Dong-jin knocks Ryu unconscious with a booby trap. He takes Ryu to the riverbed where his daughter died, dragging him into the water, slashing his Achilles tendons and waiting for him to drown. After Dong-jin dismembers Ryu's corpse, Yeong-mi's terrorist associates arrive. They stab Dong-jin, pin a note to his chest with a knife, and leave him to die.
- Song Kang-ho as Park Dong-jin, Yu-sun's father and the President of a manufacturing company who is a friend of Ryu's employers
- Shin Ha-kyun as Ryu, a deaf-mute factory worker trying to pay his sister's hospital bills
- Bae Doona as Cha Yeong-mi, Ryu's girlfriend of several years
- Han Bo-bae as Yu-sun, Dong-jin's young daughter
- Im Ji-eun as Ryu's sister, who is in need of a kidney transplant
- Lee Dae-yeon as Choi, the investigator hired by Dong-jin
- Ryoo Seung-bum as a mentally disabled person at the lake
- Ryoo Seung-wan as a food delivery person at Cha's apartment
- Oh Kwang-rok as an anarchist
- Lee Kan-hee as Park Dong-jin's ex-wife
- Jung Jae-young as the husband of Dong-jin's ex-wife
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance opened in South Korea on March 29, 2002 and had a worldwide box office gross of US$1,954,937. The film received a low-profile North American theatrical release from Tartan Films beginning August 19, 2005, over three years after it debuted in South Korea. In its opening weekend, it collected US$9,827 (US$3,276 per screen) from three New York City theaters. It played on six screens at its most widespread, and its total North American box office take was US$45,243.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 54% based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 6.16/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Though Park directs with stylistic flair, this revenge thriller is more excessively gruesome than thrilling." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56/100 based on 21 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
G. Allen Johnson of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "a waste", referring to it as "so bloody, scatologically violent and consistently shocking, [that] it seems to have no larger purpose than itself -- which is pretty grim." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote that "it is a drag that the film never rises to the level of its director's obvious ability", stating that "the violence [in the film] carries no meaning beyond the creator's ego." Daniel Eagan of Film Journal International called the film "glossy, morbid and childishly provocative", praising its visual style but criticizing director Chan-wook's "curdled vision". Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "[It] is a rigorously planned film. It's also a disingenuous one, somber in tone, callow at its core."
Derek Elley of Variety called the film "a gripping psychodrama, marbled with blackly ironic humor". The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave the film a score of three out of five stars, calling it "deeply twisted and bizarre" but noting its "weirdly nightmarish conviction." Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe gave the film a positive review, calling it "a pristine-looking movie with astounding framing and a deftly handled sociopolitical bent", and concluding that, "despite the coldblooded killing and trail of the dead, Mr. Vengeance feels warmly suffused with life." In her review of the film for The A.V. Club, Tasha Robinson wrote that Chan-wook's "style is as bold and uncompromising as his story, which seems designed to show how revenge dehumanizes more than it satisfies, even for people who wholly deserve revenge. [...] It's a difficult balancing act, but Park crafts his layers carefully and masterfully."
- Best Film
- Best Director - Park Chan-wook
- Best Music - Baik Hyun-jhin and Jang Young-gyu (UhUhBoo Project)
- Best Director - Park Chan-wook
- Best Screenplay - Park Chan-wook, Lee Jae-soon, Lee Moo-young and Lee Yong-jong
- 2002 Korean Film Awards
- Best Cinematography - Kim Byung-il
- Best Editing - Kim Sang-bum
- Best Lighting - Park Hyun-won
- Best Director - Park Chan-wook
In January 2010, Warner Bros. acquired the rights for an American remake of the film. Brian Tucker was attached to write the screenplay, to be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, in a team-up with CJ Entertainment.
- "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
- Phillips, Michael (9 September 2005). "Elegant facade hides dark heart". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Allen Johnson, G.; Curiel, Jonathan; Addiego, Walter (26 August 2005). "Film Clips / Also opening Friday". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Dargis, Manohla (19 August 2005). "A Child Is Kidnapped and an Explosion of Shocking Violence Ensues". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Eagan, Daniel (19 August 2005). "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Film Journal International. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Elley, Derek (28 March 2002). "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance". Variety. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Bradshaw, Peter (29 May 2003). "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Morris, Wesley (28 October 2005). "'Mr. Vengeance' is a deft and grisly crime thriller". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- Robinson, Tasha (16 August 2005). "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
- "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance". Cinemasie.com. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
- Barton, Steve (7 January 2010). "Warner Has Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Dread Central. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- Fleming, Michael (6 January 2010). "WB wants Vengeance". Variety. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- Fleming Jr., Mike (20 May 2013). "Cannes: Park Chan-wook's Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance Getting Remake". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 18 July 2014.