Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) (2005)

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Released 6-Dec-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of-(10:46)
Featurette-Character specific (4)
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots
Trailer-Brotherhood of War; Spider Forest; The Isle; Silmido
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 110:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chan-wook Park
CJ Entertainment
Madman Entertainment
Starring Yeong-ae Lee
Min-sik Choi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Seung-hyeon Choi
Yeong-wook Jo
Seok-joo Na

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Korean dts 5.0 (768Kb/s)
Korean Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) completes Korean Director Park Chan-wook's superb vengeance trilogy, the previous two installments being Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy. Oldboy generated quite a bit of interest with it's dark twists and shocking finale, however, Lady Vengeance is a slightly simpler revenge flick.

    Sympathy for Lady Vengeance stars Lee Young-ae as Geum-ja, a woman recently released from a thirteen- year prison sentence for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy. It seems a miscarriage of justice has taken place, because the crime was in fact committed by Mr. Baek (Choi Min-shik), an English teacher who specialises in affluent schools. In her absence Mr. Baek has put Geum-ja's infant daughter up for adoption, and she now resides somewhere in Australia.

    Thirteen years in prison will give a person plenty of time to plan their revenge, and Geum-ja does just that, doing all she can in gaol to earn the respect of her fellow prisoners. By the time of her release she has built a reputation bordering on saint-like, some referring to her as a kind-hearted angel. Little do they know of the vengeance she has planned, carefully orchestrated with the assistance of her former cellmates. Is it a violent revenge, you ask? Suffice to say, this plan will yield an amazing, cathartic release for the families of many missing children.

    This final episode of the trilogy boasts enough stunning performances to match the first two installments. The casting is excellent and, judging by the accompanying making-of featurette, it appears they had quite a good time on set despite the seriousness of the subject matter. The film also makes subtle, yet impressive use of CG effects, adding a touch of hyper-realism to certain scenes.

    Having now viewed the entire trilogy back-to-back, I can say with some certainty that Oldboy remains my favorite. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance has a little more style in terms of design and effects, perhaps due to a higher budget, which may endear it to viewers who found the previous two installments hard on the stomach. Fans of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films should definitely make the time to check this out.

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Transfer Quality


    This film has been transferred to DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    Sharpness and general clarity is excellent, while the level of blacks are good and deep. Shadow detail is also great, with plenty of detail visible in the most shadowy scenes.

    The colour scheme is rich and bold throughout, with realistic skin tones.

    Compression artefacts are nowhere to be seen. I did notice a couple of small, inconsequential specs of dust here and there, but the print is otherwise clean. Some scenes, such as the flashback sequences, have film artefacting applied for an artistic effect.

    English subtitles are activated by default and are very easy to follow. The text is comprised of a yellow font that changes to white when translating Korean text on screen. A subtitle stream is also provided as translation for the Director's Commentary. Some Korean text is burned into the video stream to translate some phrases of English and Japanese dialogue, but I didn't find it overly annoying.

    This disc is RSDL formatted (DVD9), with the layer transition placed during the feature at 45:47. The transition was transparent on my system, however it appears to be placed in a relatively still moment between scenes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three soundtracks included, the default of which is Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). A Korean dts 5.0 (768Kb/s) alternative may be selected from the setup menu or on the fly. The third Korean soundtrack is the aforementioned Director's Commentary. Obviously, Korean is the film's original language.

    Vocal delivery is always distinct and never overpowered by effects or score. I didn't notice any ADR or audio sync issues at all.

    The soundtrack score by Choi Seung-hyeon is highly memorable and provides some interesting counterpoints to the action on screen. The score combines traditional orchestration and haunting choral pieces to create a sometimes otherworldly feel.

    Surround usage is fairly consistent and varies from subtle atmospherics such as street noise to thunder, gunshots and bursts of the score. The frontal soundstage has the majority of the action panned across very nicely, vocals included.

    The dts option is my preferred here, despite it being void of an LFE channel. The score is lovely and crisp, while channel separation is noticeably superior. Provided you are using equally matched surround speakers, the main channels carry plenty of depth to make up for the lack of a dedicated subwoofer signal.

    The default soundtrack does have an LFE channel, which is utilised very well for gunshot effects, thunder and the like.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu system is nicely animated and 16x9 enhanced, with an audio clip looping in the background. None of the featurettes are 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Park Chan-wook (Director), Lee Young-ae (Actress)

    This is an interesting insight into the production. The pair discuss their approach to certain scenes, as well as alternate takes that were not used in the final cut. Of particular interest are their experiences shooting in Australia with the young actress that plays Geum-ja's daughter. Park Chan-wook spends a lot of the commentary pointing out things he could have done to make the film better, and the conversation often veers off into casual chit-chat. Still, there are some valuable anecdotes to be found. This commentary can only be selected via the setup menu.

Featurette - Making of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (10:46)

    This short piece explains Lee Young-ae's notoriety as a pretty, smiling face and how this film role aimed to change that perception of her as an actress. Lee actually seemed to have a significant amount of input into the mechanics of her scenes. Choi Min-shik is also shown in an assortment of costumes as he hams it up with the crew. We are also given a look at the scenes that were shot in Cooma (New South Wales, Australia), as well as a run-through of the actors from the previous two installments who make cameos in this film.

Featurettes- The Characters (4)

    Each of these featurettes focus on a particular character or group, with cast and crew interviews woven throughout.

  1. Lee Geum-ja (6:30) - Actress Lee Young-ae discusses some of her acting methods and we are given some more insight into the filming that took place in Cooma, Australia.
  2. Choi Min-shik (6:39) - Also the star of Oldboy, Choi explains his thoughts on the role, his limited English and the film as a whole.
  3. The Prisoners (5:23) - Each of Geum-ja's cellmates are discussed and the actresses explain how they came to be cast in the film.
  4. The Families of the Victims (7:39) - The nine actors who play the relatives of the dead children are interviewed on the set, explaining their character's motivations.

Gallery-Poster (11)

    Eleven examples of the film's poster art, some of which is quite amazing.

Gallery-Stills (10)

    Ten promotional stills, taken directly from the film.

Teaser Trailer (1:53)

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    These trailers give a good glimpse of the film's style, without giving away too much plot. Neither is 16x9 enhanced.

TV Spots (0:39)

    Two short TV ads, with flashes of imagery from the film and the film's official website listed in the bottom corner.

Madman Trailers (4)

    Trailers are included for other Korean films: Brotherhood of War, Spider Forest, The Isle and Silmido.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 3 Korean release includes an alternate version of the feature, in which the colour slowly fades to black and white throughout the film. The extras do not appear to be subtitled.

    The Region 1 Tartan release includes two additional commentaries; one with the Director, cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung and art director Hyeon-seok Choi. The third commentary features Richard Pena, Associate Professor of Film at Columbia University. The same brief making-of featurette is included, along with a 40 minute director interview.

    The Region 2 Tartan disc is an NTSC conversion and omits the commentary tracks in favour of the 40 minute director interview.

    The interview would be nice to see, and the additional commentaries make the Region 1 the winner, unfortunately.


    Sympathy For Lady Vengeance is an amazing conclusion to Park Chan-wook's superb vengeance trilogy. Try mixing the rich visual feast of Amelie with the attitute of Kill Bill, and you'd be close to visualising this film.

    The video transfer is great.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    There are a good selection of extras on offer.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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