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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

55 customer reviews

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(Nov 22, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Unable to afford proper care for his sister dying from kidney failure, Ryu turns to the black market to sell his own organs only to end up cheated of his life savings. His girlfriend urges Ryu to kidnap the daughter of wealthy industrialist Dong-jin, who recently laid him off. Ryu agrees, but unforeseen tragedies turn an innocent con into a merciless quest for revenge. Bound by their personal losses and deep-seated anger, the two men are thrust into a spiral of destruction.

Before he made the notorious cult hit Oldboy, South Korean director Chan-wook Park created Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, an equally gruesome yet elegant meditation on revenge. Desperate to get a kidney transplant for his dying sister, a deaf and dumb young man named Ryu (Ha-kyun Shin, Save the Green Planet!) kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy industrialist named Park (Kang-ho Song, Shiri). Despite Ryu's best intentions, things go horribly awry, setting in motion a series of escalating revenges--to describe the plot in more detail would undercut the movie, because much of its power comes from the spare and skillful storytelling. Chan-wook Park is careful to ground the audience in the characters' emotional lives; when the violence begins, the bloody events unfold with the hypnotic power of the revenge tragedies of the Shakespearean era, which had over-the-top plots and littered the stage with bodies, yet were full of rich poetry. Park's eye for startling images and careful editing creates a visual poetry, grotesque yet often haunting. Certainly not a film for everyone--squeamish viewers had best beware, while anyone who wants their violence flagrant and guilt-free will be disappointed--but cinephiles looking to have their hearts squeezed along with their stomachs will enjoy Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin, Doona Bae, Ji-Eun Lim, Bo-bae Han
  • Directors: Chan-wook Park
  • Writers: Chan-wook Park, Jae-sun Lee, Jong-yong Lee, Mu-yeong Lee
  • Producers: Dong-jun Seok, Jae-sun Lee, Jin-gyu Lim
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B000BGH2A4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,530 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Dimitrios on September 6, 2006
Format: DVD
As so many other people I decided to watch this film because I was impressed by the brilliant "Oldboy" and wanted to check the previous work of this fine Korean director. Although "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance" is a little bit less impressive than "Oldboy", it is very powerful with some very brutal scenes of nasty revenge methods. The story has many surprises, and some back and forth movement regarding the time sequence, but the finale is unpredictable and hard hitting indeed!
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Street's Disciple on May 12, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Old Boy is like eating cooked salmon.

This is like cutting into raw tuna.

I have never seen anything like this. This is more disturbing than any American/Japanese cinema combined.

Horrifyingly disjointed, disturbingly real--because it could happen to any one of us.

These Koreans. They can make movies. Jesus Christ.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jason C. Wilkerson on December 9, 2010
Format: DVD
Park Chan-wook is known as the bad boy of Korean cinema. Chan-wook is a former film critic who gained world wide acclaim for producing, writing, and directing what has now become known as The Vengeance Trilogy. This trilogy is tied together by common overall themes rather than through its characters. The most well known of the three films, Oldboy, garnered the director a devoted cult following in the United States. While Oldboy stands as the most recognized of the trilogy, the opening installment Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, has been grossly overlooked.

The story of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance follows Ryu (Shin Ha-kyun), a deaf and mute man who has a sister that needs a kidney transplant. At first Ryu tries to donate his own kidney to her. However, when he finds out that he has the wrong blood type, he attempts to go through the black market where they promise him a kidney transplant for his sister and 10,000,000 won in return for one of his own kidneys. The deal goes awry, so Ryu and his revolutionary girlfriend, Cha Yeong-mi (Bae Doona), plot to kidnap the daughter of his boss Park Dong-jin (Song Kang-ho).

There have been many movies about vengeance, and with only a few notable exceptions (such as Tarantino's Kill Bill) most vengeance films that come out these days feel repetitive as it's all been done before. The brilliance of each part of Chan-wook's trilogy is that they're highly unconventional for movies dealing with this subject matter. Borrowing from whodunit flicks and Hitchcock, in the end you question the identity of the protagonist and antagonist of the story. The vengeance genre always thrives on the idea of gray areas, but you always have a strong sense of who's at fault.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Inspector Gadget on September 22, 2006
Format: DVD
Before you watch this film, just be aware that you're not going to walk away from it with a big smile on your face. More like you'll want to slit your wrists. To say that Mr. Vengeance is a powerful, gut-wrenching nightmare is like saying that DaVinci merely dabbled in art.

The plot is so simple yet so complex. The direction is so elegant yet so hard-hitting. The simplistic nature of the story makes the descent into hell so shocking and captivating. You don't realize there is no going back until it's far, FAR too late.

Ryu is a deaf/mute who works in the loudest factory in the world, doing a really depressing job. His sister needs a kidney transplant, but they don't have the money to pay for it. He cannot give her one of his own because their blood types do not match. Ryu decides to go to black market organ traders to trade one of his own for one that matches his sister. Waking up naked and kidney-less in an abandoned building he now needs to raise money for his own kidney.

Ryu is now fired from his job by President Park, who is downsizing the company. His anarchist girlfriend Yeong-mi convinces him to kidnap Park's daughter and hold her to ransom. From then on, things get very, very, VERY heavy and the idea of who exactly Mr. Vengeance is is blurred and sympathy is felt for almost everyone. Revenge comes at a high price and seemingly never ends. Not that I am saying forgiving and forgetting is the way. But this movie will make you think twice about getting your own back.

The violence is spontaneous and extremely graphic without ever feeling exploitational. Sometimes it has a darkly comic feel to it, the rest of the time it's goddamn hardcore. You'll wince a great deal during this movie, that's for damn sure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rupert White on July 5, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
i got old boy first and then i got lady and mr vengeance after the fact. mr vengeance was very disturbing. the fact that the main character was deaf and dumb really made me feel frustrated at times. i found myself yelling at the tv "turn around! look! look behind you!". it was very well executed. he was trying to do good but things went terribly wrong. the tragic irony of the whole situation made my stomach hurt. it was awesome. just writing this review makes me want to watch it right now. if you like great movies with twists, turns, and a mess of blood check it out. you have to get old boy, and lady vengenace too. they are a series but they arent related. there are some references in the movies that youll pick up on which is cool. its like...korean kevin smith only really really good.
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Topic From this Discussion
People don't scroll don't enough to see there is a forum
First, some people do read the forums. Second, I've heard this film is awesome and I would like it see it. Third, "People don't scroll don't enough...", huh??
Sep 19, 2008 by Amazon Customer |  See all 2 posts
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