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Park Chan-wook Movies

Posted on Wednesday September 16, 2009 at 12:09am in

Before I get into this new set of movies, I have an announcement. I am now registered to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test – Level 2 in Chicago on December 6th. I have begun studying for the test, but there is a lot I need to cover still. I initially intended to print out the recommended study list… but the vocabulary was 220 pages long and the kanji was even worse at 679 pages. I don’t have that much paper though, so I guess I’ll be studying online. After paging through it seems as though the level 2 exam is pretty difficult, while the level 3 exam is far too easy. There is a pretty large gap between the 3rd and 4th levels to the 2nd and 1st levels. I would guess that this is because 3rd and 4th levels are meant to be elementary while 2nd and 1st levels are for fluency.

With that out of the way, here’s some new movies.

I found this Korean director on metacritic. He has several movies out including a trilogy called The Vengeance Trilogy. The three movies are not directly linked, but all use vengeance as the central theme. They were all pretty interesting, but here’s the individual breakdown:

Park Chan-wookSympathy For Mr. Vengeance. The first film is about a deaf man who’s sister is dying and needs a medical operation. They can’t afford the operation, so the man asks his wealthy boss if he can give him an advance to cover the costs. The boss declines, so the man and his girlfriend decide to kidnap the boss’s daughter and collect a ransom fee. They justify it by saying there are good kidnappings and bad kidnappings, and this would be a good kidnapping. They wouldn’t ask for anymore than the cost of the operation and return the child unharmed without fail.

Unfortunately, the plan goes wrong when the man’s sister commits suicide. He brings the kidnapped child with him to bury the body of his sister, but while he is tending to the burial, the child drowns in the nearby river. The man is unable to hear her screams because he is deaf. The sister died, the child died, and the boss is not happy. He sets out to kill the couple to atone for the death of his child.

This was a good story, but the pacing seemed a bit strange. At times it was very quick moving, but there seemed to be a lot of stagnant areas of the film where nothing seemed to progress. It got a little boring. This seems to be charactaristic of Park’s films, though.

Next up is…

Park Chan-wookOldboy. This is probably the most famous of Park’s films, and for a good reason. This was my favorite of the three. The story is about a man who is imprisoned by an unknown captor for 15 years and unexpectedly released. Upon release he starts tracking down his mysterious enemy.

The answers to the questions remain unanswered until the final few scenes, and what an answer it is. The climax to this film involves a very interesting and well written twist. The pacing is better than in Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance and there is a lot of action as well.

I’d recommend this one if you consider yourself open-minded to non-conventional movies. Despite being famous in America, it is probably pretty different than the movies you are used to.

Park Chan-wookSympathy For Lady Vengeance. This is the last movie in the Vengeance Trilogy. It is about a young woman who is forced to confess to a murder she didn’t commit to save her daughter’s life. After 13 years of imprisonment, she hunts down the man who forced her into prison.

She is reunited with her daughter, who was adopted by foster parents after she went to prison, but the daughter doesn’t want her back. With the help of her previous cell-mates, she captures the man who ruined her youth.

She plans to have her vengeance, but what will that do to bring back her daughter and the years she lost? This movie was about the same as Mr. Vengeance in pacing, action, and story development. This movie did have the best actors, I think. The talent was very good.


Park Chan-wookI’m a Cyborg, But That’s Ok. This movie is not a part of the Vengeance Trilogy and is completely different. It is about a girl who is admitted into a mental hospital because she thinks she is a cyborg. She won’t eat anything because cyborgs don’t do that kind of thing. None of the nurses can get her to cooperate and her body slowly deteriorates.

She meets an anti-social man in the hospital and their defects seem to click together. They form a bond and start to help each other work through their problems. I liked this movie, but again, Park has a pretty funny way of telling his stories. I would only recommend it if you’re into different approaches of movies. If you’re a fan of other foreign films, this could be your thing.

In music news, the new Muse CD came out today.

Park Chan-wook

I recommend it. If you don’t know who Muse is and you like Rock / Progressive Rock music, you should definitely be looking into them. This new CD is just as good as their previous four studio albums. Check it out.

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