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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.
2013 saw the genesis of an ambitious and original new endeavor from Canadian martial arts film and stunt troupe, Team 2X. That project, from industry stuntman and coordinator James Mark (Wolves), hails this week from Raven Banner with forthcoming release, Kill Order, aiming to spark a new wave of feature length martial arts movie fandom with stuntman and martial artist Chris Mark (Scott Pilgrim VS. The World) setting the stage for his own feature acting debut. When David, a troubled high school student who appears to suffer from mental illness, finds himself in a situation where he is about to be taken captive for reasons unknown, a dark power takes over his body opening the doors to a world of superhuman abilities and a past kept secret.Also starring are Dan Park, Denis Akiyama and Jessica Clement along with the mind-blowing feats of Team 2X for its November 24 premiere at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. Raven Banner will then follow suit with a U.S./Canada release on F…
Friday night marked another big event weekend in which I had the opportunity to partially partake. A night of festive dining, laughter and comeradery that felt all too short for me, though I managed to fend off the sleep deprivation for a whole day to write about it. Feel free to check it out of you fancy it.
Of course, the work doesn't stop there. This week's installment of the Hit List is packed with a fresh new load of film, stunt and screenfighting talent and much more.
As such, it was actress and martial artist Geneviève Doang(STUDIO+ series Dragon Race) who left a striking impression on me a few Winters ago with one of the best action comedy short you'll ever see involving two heroes kicking NAZI ass, Le Aventures De Tranh Et Nowak. The short, also starring actor Quentin d'Hainaut, was intially meant as a pilot for a hopeful series that never came to pass but you can still catch the short online. And, in pairing fashion, you will find that footage visible in thei…
Next year will soon see the premiere of the CW's latest superhero serial adaptation, Black Lighting. That hasn't hindered actor and award-winning filmmaker Choice Skinner from installing his own seal of approval on the popular DC Comics character and as it stands, lending a spotlight to two major superhero IPs in the same universe.
For this, Skinner's own independently-produced and non-profit fan film project, Black Lightining: Tobias's Revenge, is finally set to air its finale on Tuesday at 9:00am PST/12:00pm Eastern. The news comes following the release of the first part back in April from Darkan Entertainment, LLC., and self-funded with sponsorship by Action VFX, with Skinner directing as well as starring and sharing writing duties with actor James Moten Black. Ex-Mayor and crime Lord Tobias Whale has returned to Suicide Slums to exact revenge against local famed superhero Black Lightning. Tobias gathers gang members from the local gang 100 and several other super v…