Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) is the first a trilogy of vengeance films from director Chan-wook Park, followed by Oldboy (2003), which precedes Lady Vengeance (2005).
As in the Oldboy (2003) film, there is conflict with the main character, Ryu (Ha-kyun Shin)–a deaf factory worker, who lives with his sister, who’s in need of a new kidney. Ryu worked to save up enough money to pay for the transplant. But Ryu had a problem. He was fired from his job and given 10,000,000 Korean won as severance pay–which was, of course, not enough to pay for his sister’s operation. He could not donate a kidney–he wasn’t a match. Ryu needed to do something.
Rob a bank, no.
Borrow money, no.
How about this–kidnap the boss’s best friend’s daughter and hold her for ransom–yes. That could work!
Ryu and his friend Yeong-mi (Doona Bae) discuss the plan, figure out the ransom amount, 10,000,000 won. Ryu is nervous about the kidnapping, but proceeds with the plan anyway…until…
Ryu finds an advertisement for an organ ‘trade’–a kidney–that would offer him an ‘equal’ match he needed for his sister’s operation! Now this seemed like a better idea. He only had to give his 10,000,000 Korean won (about 10,000 USD) to the black market dealers to perform the operation.
Gives his money.
The ‘surgeons’ disappear.
Ryu is left naked and abandoned on the ‘cutting room floor’
The hospital calls to inform Ryu that they found a match for his sister
The operation will only cost 10,000,000 Korean won.
Back to plan A. The kidnapping.
Which goes wrong.
He is down 10,000,000 won–and one kidney.
I say that is enough misfortune to make anyone go on a quest for vengeance. But there is a catch.
When I tell you that this movie is full of fantastic twists–it is. When I tell you that the characters are brilliantly developed in this movie–they are. I want to go on and give more info on the twists and turns of the movie…but it would only serve to ruin the film’s intensity. As in Oldboy (2003) you will have to experience the thrill and excitement just as the characters themselves experienced it.