Sympathy For Lady Vengeance DVD Review

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Sympathy For Lady Vengeance is a splendid movie. Stylish, meticulously crafted and performed, and laced with the dangerous taboo topics of child murder and grotesque revenge. I’m a very emotive person and there are scenes in this that hurt. Park’s awesome ability to keep you glued to the screen throughout tales that, when all said and done, are righteously unpleasant and uncomfortable, is commendable. Here, he skirts the more violent aspects with an almost regal skill. Having said that though, I would still have much preferred to witness the full-on gory retribution with clinical clarity. I, for one, totally applaud the theme of natural justice being meted out and it is great to see it re-enacted without a simpering Hollywood-style lapse into morality. Child killers should be torn apart. Period. And Park has the guts to enforce that view without pandering to the do-gooders.

As the finale of the Revenge Cycle, it lacks the impact I’d expected. But, I suspect that this film is a steady grower and will gain more resonance for me as time goes by. He may have injected a little too much brevity and irreverence during the first half, but overall the film is a tremendous exercise in cinematic verve and hard-hitting, confrontational themes.

The Hong Kong disc has a fair-to-middling visual transfer, very good sound in the DTS-ES track – when called upon – but a dearth of extras. However, unless the special features on the Korean release have English subtitles, this could still be the better option if they get that Dolby Digital error sorted out. Best to wait and see, I think. The film, itself, is very highly recommended and, of course, may yet be better treated on R1 or R2.
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