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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 112 minutes, three audio commentaries, two featurettes, and trailers

STUDIO: Tartan/ Palisades Pictures/ CJ Entertainment/ Moho Film

RELEASE DATE: 9-26-2006

LADY VENGEANCE is another beautiful masterpiece from the director of OLDBOY. In some ways, it may not be as good, but it offers moments of hunmor to offset the gruesome scenes shown in this latest South Korean film from Tartan USA. Geum Ja (Young-Ae Lee) is released after serving 13 years in prison for killing a five year old boy (who was actually murdered by her fellow kidnapper- Mr. Baek). The kidnapper threatened to kill her daughter if she didn't confess. The detective on the case had his doubts that she did it, but he went along. AS a result, she finds her mistake had cost more than one life as she sets out on carrying her revenge against the man who robbed her life of 13 years. In prison, she became a saint that any prisoner wouldn't refuse to help. The guy (Mr. Baek) she has vengeance planned for was played by the ,Min-Sik Choi, same guy from OLDBOY (who also was the victim of many tortures).

LADY VENGEANCE does have one scene that is btter than OLDBOY, the ending. LADY VENGEANCE has a powerful last half hour that starts out not for the light hearted and yet it will probably make sense to anyone who lost a child to a murderer. Her revenge doesn't go as planned because complications arise including the daughter she hasn't seen for years decides she wants to come back to South Korea and neither one understands what each one is saying. Her guilt rises when she finds out what the man who killed the child has been up to during her time in prison. LADY VENGEANCE isn't a movie with easy answers. It is why each movie in the Vengeance trilogy is powerful in their own way. In a way, the female lead has a beauty to her and a charm. But also you won't be wrong if noticing that LADY VENGEANCE (aka SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE) borrows many of the plot elements from OLDBOY.

Min-Sik Choi (or Mr. Choi) plays a very unlikeable cruel bastard in LADY VENGEANCE. He is dancing with school kids in one scene to screwing his wife on the kitchen table (he interrupts dinner to do it) in the next. Young-Ae Lee is very effective as Geum-Ja. Her style from her clothing to the red eye shadow to they the character acts is just fantastic. The thing that sticks out most is how her character can't express emotion very well and ends up getting stuck with her daughter again (even though she feels she doesn't deserve it for her crimes that she did). LADY VENGEANCE is one of those masterpieces from South Korea that people will love or hate. It just depends on how you view the issues and emotions brought up.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

I originally saw it on a preview DVD and the image detail was great and the final DVD does improve on it. Too Bad the menus aren't anamorphically enhanced like some other Tartan DVD releases. The look of the film on DVD is due to the bleach bypass process and other techniques were appplied to the original negative during the post-production process. Some other reviewers say there are a few problems with the transfer, but I wonder if Tartan would ever consider dropping the 2.0 DS track from their releases since they have a 5.1 track already. Maybe that will increase the bitrate a little bit for the transfer of the film.

AUDIO: Korean 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, Korean 5.1 DTS, Korean 2.0 DS

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dialogue and the sound mix come through sharp. The audio commentaries are strange to listen to sicne you don't hear the film's audio in the background.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Three audio commentaries were recorded for the film, but maybe the two Korean commentaries (the first with director Park and actress Young-Ae Lee, the second with Park, DP Chung-Hoon Chung , and Art Director Hwa-Sung Cho) would have been better served by being edited together. I like the techinal production track better (like the part where Park,n teh DP, and art director mention a location that was almost used for OLDBOOY and they had to light more in the dark). The English audio commentary track by Richard Pena (Program Director for the Film Society Of Lincoln Center and Associate Professor of Film at Columbia University) comes off like a fanboy track at times. I do tend to disagree with him that LADY VENGEANCE is better than OLDBOY.

THE MAKING OF LADY VENGEANCE featurette is a 10 minute featurette (narrated by the adssistant director) about how it was like during the production. It's not too insightful. You will get more information from the commentary tracks. The interview with director Chan-Wook Park is about 40 minutes long and it does get a little long as you wait for the English translator to relay the answers. The US and International trailers for LADY VENGEANCE are included in addition to Tartan Asia Extreme previews for OLDBOY, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, MAREBITO, KOMA, A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, NATURAL CITY, AB-NORMAL BEAUTY, and SPIDER FOREST.

FINAL ANALYSIS: LADY VENGEANCE is a worthy follow-up to OLDBOY. If you haven't seen one of the best films of this year, watch this one and OLDBOY.

this review is (c)10-1-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com