A site dedicated to discussing a variety of action & martial arts film entertainment, and part time contributor to The Action Elite. The written and expressive work of the author(s) of Film Combat Syndicate is/are protected by Copyright Law. To send us scoops or share your inquiries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's easy to see why Park Chan-Wook has become such a favorite over the years, particularly with his Vengenace trilogy dating back to the 2002 release of Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance. I had only been familiar with the 2003 release of Oldboy, the second of all three Vengeance titles with each film telling a different tale, and so it's only a matter of time before I set out to catch Lady Vengeance in the process.
For now, I speak of the first film which centers on Shin Ha-Kyun as Ryu, a jobless deaf mute who, after a failed attempt to sell his kidney to the black market to acquire the funds for his ailing sister's own kidney operation, hatches a plan with his girlfriend, Cha, to get the money he needs. However, secrets be damned, the truth unfolds in a plot that deals in kidnapping, murder, mystery, and inner-turmoil for Dong-jin, a grief-stricken father who will stop at nothing to get his revenge.
If you're not yet keen on this film then forgive me for being as vague as I am here. The film has been out for a good fourteen years and I've only just hopped on it myself, and being a precursor to Oldboy, I couldn't ignore this for very long despite usually writing about action movies. The film itself plays out more as an arthouse crime thriller with interwoven drama and slow-paced sequencing. The characters are fantastically portrayed and timed beautifully in their evolution as the plot thickens.
The Thieves co-star, actor Shin Ha-Kyun propels the grim story in the role of Ryu with Cloud Atlas co-star, actress Bae Doo-na in the role of Cha whose membership in a radical anarchist group may or may not be just a one-person gig. Award-winning TV actress Im Ji-eun plays Ryu's sister whose growing friendship with young actress Han Bo-Bae proves quite pivotal in the film's ultimate twist as you grow to love them both. Song Kang-ho, a Korean cinema favorite known recently for his role in the 2013 festival favorite, Snowpiercer, commands the remaining half of the film as Dong-jin whose deseperate search for vengeance is illustrated masterfully as a touching and gripping downward spiral that affects all of our main characters one way or another.
Park's vision here is wonderfully crafted for a tale with a look that isn't too boring even though a film walks a little bit on the edge of it with its pacing; what saves the film largely is its delivery through the performances, the cinematography, the script, the ways in which dialogue is delivered, the scenery, the set pieces and some of the most delightful surprises that occur in a tale as grim as this.
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance is a violent film, but it doesn't exploit gore at all, it accentuates it. The plot is rewardingly crafted in several ways that doesn't try a lot of your patience, immersing you in a crime story that will compel you and not distract you, and often tickles one's own resonance and understanding of cimema, or Korean cinema for that matter.
It's not for everyone, but it pays to have an open mind, and if you have overlooked this film for any reason in the past decade, stop.
With the upcoming rollout or Jesse Johnson's The Pay Up, Accident Man and Triple Threat in his wake, leave it to action star Scott Adkins to help carry the mantle with word on the upcoming action thriller revisal, Sinners & Saints: Vengeance. Adkins will reunite once more with Chad Law-penned Jarhead 3: The Siege helmer William Kaufman who, in turn, reunites with actor Johnny Strong who led the initial 2011 revenge cop thriller.
The film aims as a stand-alone sequel which tells of a New Orleans detective who journeys to Moscow to avenge the murder of his partner at the hands of a syndicate enforcer with the help of an old war buddy, and the enforcer's lover. Law, whose writing credits also include Kaufman's zombie hit thriller, Daylight's End and Isaac Florentine's Adkins-led home invasion action pic, Close Range, is scripting with Saints And Sinners scribe Jay Moses ahead of the film's Bulgarian shoot this Winter.
I did a lot of work this weekend. So, don't be surprised if things slow down a bit for me this week. At best, I might be able to pace myself and keep going but a little me-time also suffices.
For now, at least you have this week's installment of the Hit List to relieve your boredom. Demos, goods to promote and much more are on the way starting with a fresh new batch of stunt and training reels ripe with great talent featuring Saidqua Bynum, Dan Mast, Evelyn Osorio Vacaro, Brandon Ly, Hong Berghof (more on her later), Tim Storms, Dina Cataldi, Clancy Petersen, Katie Schwartz, Taylor Castriota, Carlton Hoyles, Sia Alipour, and a 2017 reel celebrating progress over at New York's Breakfall Studios.
Moving forward, we have two new items to help push, and we start the most recent poster debut for actress and martial artist Bridger Fox's latest turn at the helm, Assassin's Curse. The new action short is well underway ahead of its forthcoming 10X10 Filmmaker Challenge prem…
Still to the surprise of many is the forthcoming second installment of the Escape Plan trilogy - Steven C. Miller's Escape Plan 2: Hades, following Mikael Håfström's initial 2013 hit pairing Sylvester Stallone with Arnold Schwarzenegger. A third was announced back in April and news this week now confirms the start of principal photography for upcoming threequel, Escape Plan 3: Devil's Station with Death And Life Of Bobby Z and 15 Minutes director John Herzfeld at the helm.
The new movie sees Stallone and actor Dave Bautista reprising their roles from a script by Herzfeld and screenwriter Miles Chapman which sees the two pairing up once again to break out one of their own from an inescapable prison. The two will be joined on screen by actor and martial artist Max Zhang whose credits span various facets in film from stunt double to principal actor with credits such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Soi Cheng's S.P.L. 2: A Time For Conseuqences (a.k.a. Kill Zone 2), and…