Chan-Wook Park has a reputation for very violent movies, most famously Old Boy. The question about films like this is whether the violence works in the film or is it just a dumb splatterfest. I’ve never actually seen Old Boy I don’t think, but I’ve seen his 2002 film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance a couple of times, including again a few days ago. It is violent, yes, but it works in the film, even if…spoiler alert….every major character dies in the end. We aren’t sure which Mr. Vengeance we are supposed to feel sympathy for actually. Is it the young deaf factory worker who tries so hard to get a kidney transplant for his sister, including giving his own kidney to some organ dealers who don’t pay him back with anything for his sister? Or do we feel sorry for the factory owner whose daughter is kidnapped by our green haired deaf friend and his anarchist girlfriend and who does not come to a good end either? Both? Neither? It’s not a happy movie, but it sure is a damn good one.
Although he wasn’t huge star at the time, later, Kang-Ho Soon later became a huge star thanks to Parasite. He’s the factory owner and grieving father. He’s been in a number of other great Korean films, including Memories of Murder, The Host, and Snowpiercer.
Some of you may hate this film, but I like it a lot.