Sympathy For Mr Vengeance Explained: The Cycle Of Vengeance Never Ends


The first installment of Park Chan Wook’s Vengeance trilogy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (2002), is the darkest and most violent of the three films. As the film follows the two characters, Ryu and Dong-jin, the plot is a classic tragedy that makes good use of irony. Ryu, an aspiring deaf-mute artist, is forced to drop out of art school to care for his sick sister, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant.

He is laid off from his industrial job, but he refuses to tell his sister about it. In a desperate attempt to acquire a kidney for his sister, he makes a deal with black market organ traffickers for one of his own kidneys and ten million Korean won. The organ dealers scam him, leaving him unable to pay for his sister’s operation (which costs exactly 10,000,000 Korean won) until his surgeon receives a kidney. In order to save his sister, Ryu and his lover Yeong-mi resort to a kidnapping scheme.

Ryu and his anarchist girlfriend hope to avoid the traditional label of kidnappers and the negative connotations that come with it by entertaining the victim, avoiding violence, hoping to only ask for money, manipulating the truth of the situation to appear worse than them. actually dealing with her and trying to rationalize every line of logic that would make the situation look worse than she’s actually dealing with it.

His sister commits suicide and the little girl dies

Ryu’s sister discovers the kidnapping plot and commits suicide, believing that she is the perpetrator of this heinous crime. Ryu is so mesmerized by the promise to bury his sister where she requested – not to mention the fact that he is deaf – that the kidnapped Yu-Sun drowns in the nearby river. Dong-jin, her father, is now spurred on by his own desire for revenge against Ryu and those responsible for his daughter’s death, turning the narrative almost exactly halfway to following this new path of revenge. The father sees no other way to quench his bloodlust than to assassinate those who murdered his daughter.

Sympathy for Mr Vengeance explained
Ryu buries his sister

The father begins his revenge

The first part of the film features Park’s more amusing and satirical inversions of the revenge story, which contrast dramatically in the second half. Dong-jin is quick to adopt every barbaric means at his disposal to avenge his daughter’s death, while Ryu and his girlfriend harbor a false version of their ferocity. He creates a crude electrical device on Yeong (Ryu’s anarchist girlfriend) and severely tortures her for it. Despite his warnings of his importance as a member of an anarchist group, Dong-jin ignores any threat of violence that may be directed at him, showing a man willing to exact retribution or die trying.

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Revenge is taken but…

After Yeong was electrocuted and Ryu found his body, the two men engaged in a tense confrontation, each waiting to assassinate the other. After fixing his house with an electric trap that knocks out Ryu, Dong-jin emerges victorious. The father now takes Ryu back to the lake where his daughter was found dead and forces him to endure the same torture that caused his daughter’s death. Dong-jin admits that Ryu may be a nice man but argues that he has no choice but to kill him in order to make up for the grief of his daughter’s death. Dong-jin then cuts Ryu’s two Achilles tendons, causing him to drown.

Sympathy for Mr Vengeance explained
Pick up

The cycle of revenge continues

Dong-jin reappears, dragging bloody body bags containing Ryu’s mutilated body. However, Ryu’s girlfriend’s anarchist organization comes out of nowhere for him. Dong-jin is severely stabbed and killed by the group, leaving him as lifeless as Ryu’s disembodied corpse a few feet in front of him.

With Ryu’s bloody body bags staring at Dong’s Death Lake, Ryu’s sister of Jin’s daughter buried just beyond it, and Dong-jin himself stabbed right behind him, the film’s final shot is a testament to striking Park’s insane plot at the heart of Sympathy for Monsieur Vengeance. Despite their good intentions, either to save his sister’s life or to punish a criminal for the murder of a young girl, men and their loved ones have died as a result of their decision to take revenge.

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