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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.
EXCLUSIVE: A filmmaker will go the extra mile to make a film happen, and with a concept that feels so good and workable that they're willing to risk more than enough. Finnish-Iranian actor and martial artist Ramin Sohrab certainly fits the mold with a career lasting up to a decade and wearing several hats throughout his career thusfar whilst primarily calibrating hismelf as Iran's answer to the likes of Jet Li or Donnie Yen. Malek, his 2014 proof-of-concept action short was a terrific exhibition of his skillset following four years of slow development in Iran and preceded another four years of even slower progress. His 2017 concept proof, Viulu, proved equally stellar despite taking it to BiFan at Korea last year in hopes of stirring up some funding only to end up seeing those efforts fall short as well.
Thus, landing right back at square one and with eight years in and nothing to show for it, Sohrab decided to tweak his 2014 gig just enough to earn the appeal of censors in Ira…
Crowdfunding officially kicked off on Monday with a new Indiegogo campaign for The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback. Action stars Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock are back and co-producing, as well as rejoining a cast of returning and new faces led by title star, actor Jansen Panettiere, and once more with writer/director Michael Baumgarten who helmed the first film as well as last year's Paying Mr. McGetty. Plot details are unknown for the sequel following the first installment centered on an embattled teenager struggling to face the odds in a new neighborhood with help of his martial arts expert sibs, Uncle Glen and Auntie Cindy. Returning are Brandon Tyler Russell, Matthew Ziff and martial artist TJ Storm to reprise their roles with Chuck Zito emerging for the sequel next to actor Sasha Mitchell and with award-winning stunt coordinator James Lew back to direct the action. Florida's Cocoa Beach will again serve as the backdrop from a script by Baumgarten with …
We've long known since last summer that a television spin-off series set in the John Wick universe was in the making. Pan over now to this week's events over at the Television Critics Association where news is just making headway for the series, The Continental, with word that the show has landed at Starz with actor Keanu Reeves attached. Serving as showrunner will be Chris Collins (Sons of Anarchy, The Wire, Man in the High Castle) who will also pen the script outlining the show's forte exploring the auspices of the titular assassins' luxury hotel chain as seen in 2014's John Wick and last year's John Wick: Chapter Two. Thunder Road's Basil Iwaynk is executive producing along with franchise scribe Derek Kolstad, who has been building up his workload ever since then in addition to his latest start on STXfilms's Nobody with 87Eleven. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch who helmed the 2014 film and shared seperate duties on its sequel will also executive produc…