Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chinjeolhan Geumjassi (Sympathy For Lady Vengeance)

Revenge Is A Cake Best Eaten Cold

Chinjeolhan Geumjassi (Sympathy For Lady Vengeance)

Starring Lee Yeong-ae (Jewel In The Palace), Choi Min Sik (Oldboy)
Director: Park Chan Wook (Sympathy For Mr.Vengeance)

Parts of this lose me for want of a hook. The key to confronting Park's specific brand of shock cinema is always that empathic nag that sucks you in - - -the politically corrosive murder in JSA, the kidnapped girl of Sympathy For Mr.Vengeance, the captivity a la Kafka of Oldboy. The hook here's old school Charlie Bronson get-even with not much meat in its spindly bones. Lee Yeong-ae's injured ex-con Geum ja's a cipher. Choi Min Sik’s fuming heavy's a cartoon demon. And the narrative fractures until it breaks down to the emotional consistency of a blackly hilarious sketch comedy. The carpet-bombing of the abstract-expressionist eyecandy and ravishing carnage and absurdist sweeteners Park's getting more and more psycho for counts for visceral joy but it removes me even more. All traumas converge on the overextended schoolhouse finale but has to bristle with it to raise crucial hackles. My heart's not in it by then so it's all so much preening designer ultraviolence to me , like a decapitation under neon.
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