By Claire Ala
Imagine being sentenced to 13 years in prison for a murder you didn’t commit. In Chan-Wook Park’s Lady Vengeance, the final installment of the Vengeance Trilogy, I was disappointed when watching Lee Geum-Ja’s 13-year imprisonment and plan against the man who framed her. I wasn’t impressed with Lady Vengeance because the story was less mind-blowing than the past two revenge films. I expected a unique, conceptually thrilling finale. Despite my dissatisfaction, I found the female lead a nice change.
Lee Geum-Ja is a beautiful woman who fellow inmates label “kind-hearted,” but under this façade she is vengeful and angry. She was sort of like the heroine in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. However, she’s not as bad-ass. She’s not skilled in martial arts or samurai swords so to enact her revenge she uses her connections to inmates when she’s released from prison.
The film also makes use of colorful symbolism. White represented the good, innocence and a new beginning. After Geum-Ja is released from prison, an extremely religious man approaches her and gives her a piece of tofu. He says to her “eat it, so you’ll live white and never sin again.” She slaps it out of his hand and ignores his advice. The use of dark colors symbolized sin and revenge.
When Geum-Ja begins her vengeance she applies a blood-red eye shadow and wears bright red heels. Even her apartment is completely decorated in red and darkly lit.
While I think the use of colors to represent sin and innocence is unoriginal, I liked how types of food were incorporated into good vs. evil. The food was an amusing play on you are what you eat. Geum-Ja was faced with white tofu and white cake whenever she thought about her sins and repentance, but a dark chocolate cake was eaten after sins were committed.
The religious connotations are introduced differently yet I found Geum-Ja’s dependence on religion as a weakness. She wants revenge, but wonders whether her sins are forgivable. Geum-Ja’s sinful nature and desire for atonement is similar to many plots I’ve seen before, so I got tired of watching the movie about halfway through.
The film was difficult to watch. I grew disinterested in the boring plot and hard to read subtitles (at times white text was on light backgrounds). Actors from the past two vengeance films played roles, but none of their performances were as memorable. Kidnapping and parent-child relationships are still factors incorporated into revenge, but Geum-Ja’s story isn’t as compelling.
The story is boring but it’s still accompanied by the director’s remarkable filmmaking and music choice. Some of the filming reminded me of Tarantino’s style with the antiqued lighting and characters’ names written out. The classical baroque-like music goes well with the scenes. Unfortunately, the pretty scenes and soundtrack aren’t enough to make this on my list of must-sees. Lady Vengeance is an unmemorable disappointment compared to the rest of the Vengeance Trilogy.
Rating: 1 out of 4