Film: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
I know you're a good guy... but you know why I have to kill you...
(2002, Korean: 복수는 나의 것; Vengeance Becomes You
) is the first installment of Park Chan Wook
's Vengeance Trilogy
and easily the most depressing and most violent of the three films. The plot is a standard tragedy
that makes good use of irony
as the film follows the two protagonists
, Ryu and Park Dong-jin.
Ryu, a deaf-mute aspiring artist, has to leave art school to take care of his ill sister, who badly needs a kidney transplant. Unfortunately he is laid off from his factory job, but he refuses to tell his sister. Out of desperation, he makes a deal with black market organ traffickers to find a kidney for his sister in exchange for one of his own kidneys and 10,000,000 Korean won. The organ dealers swindle him out of his money, leaving him unable to pay for his sister's operation (which cost exactly 10,000,000 Korean won
) once her surgeon finally gets a kidney. Ryu and his girlfriend Cha Yeong-mi resort to a kidnapping scheme in order to get the money to save his sister.
As if things weren't already bad enough, Ryu's sister commits suicide after finding out about the kidnapping, then the scheme goes awry and the kidnapped girl is accidentally killed
. Her father Dong-jin swears revenge on her kidnappers, tracking down Ryu and Yeong-mi. Ryu is in turn tracking down the organ dealers who he believes had set the chain of events in the movie, and he intends to get revenge
as well. Naturally this cannot end well.
This film provides examples of:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Even though the main characters themselves have done quite a number of bad deeds, the tragedy of the ensuing Cycle of Revenge, due to Rousseau Was Right, make them feel like this in spite of it.
- Yeong-mi. Sure, she's a radical terrorist. But you might can't help it, when she died from the Electric Torture by Dong-jin, due to the cruel nature of it.
- Ryu. Yes, he's a kidnapper of Yu-sun. But when Dong-jin brings him back to the same river where Yu-sun had drowned, he could only silently stood there in the river, reaching his hand out to Dong-jin. Then he drowns after having his Achilles tendons slashed by the latter.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Ryu's kidnapping scheme.
- Asshole Victim:
- The organ dealers themselves were the only ones who didn't have any motivation behind their actions. Needless to say, their deaths by Ryu, which came off as Laser-Guided Karma, came off as satisfying.
- At the end, Dong-jin himself is more together. He was killed by Yeong-mi's terrorist group, just as she warned him earlier.
- Bath Suicide: See Goodbye, Cruel World!.
- Batter Up: Ryu vs. organ dealers.
- Black Market: The organ dealers whom Ryu contacts.
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: Ryu's death at the end.
- Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Yeong-mi's leftist group is implied to be made up of these.
- Brick Joke: Yeong-mi's terrorist organization is talked about at certain points of the movie. As it turns out, they actually do exists.
- Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Ryu's sister requests that if she were to die, she wants to be buried at the suburban riverbed that the both of them used to frequent as children. When Ryu finds his sister dead in the bathtub, he bought her dead body to said location, but he also had to bring Yu-sun along with him to ensure that the child wouldn't be lost. All does not end well when Yu-sun drowns in the river with Ryu unable to hear her cries for help.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Chekhov's Hobby: Yeong-mi is shown printing off a death threats for an anarchy group. This later turns out to be a calling card the (very real) group pins on victims, and one is held on Mr. Park's torso with a knife.
- Chekhov's Skill: Ryu's batting practice later helps him knock a dealer unconscious, and then again to stave in his skull.
- Notice This: Ryu recalls that the lake used to be deep enough to cover his head, and it is shown reaching the top of his torso. Come the finale, Mr. Park weighs down Ryu and the water easily covers his head, drowning him.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Dong-jin to Yeong-mi.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: If Ryu had just waited three weeks for the right donor to be found for the kidney transplant instead of going to the black market traffickers, then he wouldn't need to kidnap Yu-sun for the ransom, thus leading to his sister's suicide. Furthermore, Ryu should've returned Yu-sun to Dong-jin straight away instead of bringing her along with him to the suburban riverbed to help bury his deceased sister's body, meaning that not only would Yu-sun not drowns in the river when Ryu couldn't hear her, but the Cycle of Revenge also be avoided.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The torture of Yeong-mi.
- Cycle of Revenge
- A Date with Rosie Palms: See Looks Like She Is Enjoying It.
- Death by Irony: Ryu was responsible for Yu-sun's drowning, so Dong-jin drowns him. Then immediately after, Yeong-mi's terrorist group kills Dong-jin, just as she had warned him.
- Dies Wide Open: The police found Yeong-mi dead with her eyes wide open, after she was tortured to death by Dong-jin.
- The Dog Bites Back: When Ryu get back at the organ dealers.
- Downer Ending: Heck, downer movie.
- Driven to Suicide: See Goodbye, Cruel World!.
- Electric Torture: Yeong-mi dies this way.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Ryu's sister's name is never mentioned.
- Fallen Hero: Both protagonists end up broken by loss, and then resort to awful things to get revenge.
- Fatal Flaw: Ryu's deafness. He didn't hear Yu-sun calling for help as she drowned; if she had lived, 4/5 of the main characters would have survived the film, making it less of a Downer Ending.
- For Want of a Nail: As explained by Yeong-mi, everything is the fault of Ryu's bosses: since they fired Ryu, he went to the mob to get an organ match for his sister without the waiting list; since they rob Ryu, this leads to the kidnapping plot and everything that goes wrong from then on. In other words, it could have all been avoided if Ryu wasn't laid off.
- From Bad to Worse
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Dong-jin and Ryu.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The autopsy.
- Goodbye, Cruel World!: The suicide note is written by Ryu's sister, hours before her brother finds her dead in a bathtub.
- Grave Robbing: Dong-jin accidentally uncovers Ryu's sister's body.
- Gut Punch: The death of Yu-sun is what set off the events of the movie.
- Hand Signals: Yeong-mi uses this sign language whenever she is speaking with Ryu.
- The Hero Dies: By the end of the film, all three of the protagonists were dead.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Both Dong-jin and Ryu became as worse as their respective enemies in the second half of the film.
- Healthcare Motivation: The reason why Yu-sun is kidnapped by Ryu.
- High Pressure Blood: Justified, Ryu stabs a man in the carotid artery.
- Hope Spot: Subverted. While being tortured, Yeong-mi says that her terrorist group, Revolutionary Anarchists Association, will come after her killers if she indeed dies. Not only is she electrocuted to death, but she was the only member in the group. The terrorist group finally show up at the end of the movie to avenge her.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Ryu's wrongdoings are more often the result of mistakes and bad luck than bad intentions.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. Yu-sun didn't survive her drowning.
- Kafka Comedy: Nothing goes right for anyone. For example, Ryu is laid off and has to resort to trading with criminals to buy a matching kidney, as he won't be able to pay his sister's medical bills much longer. After the criminals they remove his kidney and flee along with his savings, Ryu's doctor then informs him they have miraculously found a matching donor for his sister, and his savings will cover the operation.
- Karmic Death: See Death by Irony.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ryu begins his descent to He Who Fights Monsters by killing the organ dealers.
- Kill 'em All: By the end of the film, every major character is dead.
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: See Death by Irony.
- The Kindnapper: Ryu and Yeong-mi to Yu-sun.
- Knight Templar: Dong-jin thinks that hunting down the kidnappers of his daughter is considered justice.
- Lady Macbeth: Yeong-mi is the one to come up with the kidnapping plan, and pressures Ryu into carrying it out.
- Looks Like She Is Enjoying It: Ryu's neighbours masturbating to what they assume to be sex but is in fact his sister suffering from her failing kidneys.
- A Match Made in Stockholm: Non-romantic example. The daughter was kidnapped, and everything seems fine until she accidentally drowns while Ryu was burying his sister, unable to hear the girl's cries for help. This results in the Cycle of Revenge being set in motion.
- Not So Different
- On The Money: Inverted in that Ryu was swindled out of his money from the organ dealers. The cost happens to be 10,000,000 Korean won, which is exactly the same cost should an organ be available legally.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Dong-jin's entire M.O. to the kidnappers of his daughter.
- P.O.V. Cam: Several establishing early on shots remind the audience that Ryu is deaf.
- A Protagonist Is Ryu: Ryu himself is one of the main characters.
- Revenge Before Reason: This happens twice in the movie.
- After Ryu was finished with his vengeance on the organ dealers. He went back to Yeong-mi's apartment, only to find his girlfriend's dead body in the stretcher while in a lift. Instead of getting over it, he was consumed with grief, swearing vengeance on his girlfriend's killer.
- Dong-jin wishes to fulfill his desire for justice on the kidnappers of his daughter. He starts out by going to Yeong-mi's apartment and giving her an Electric Torture. However, the girl warns him that if she dies, the terrorist group she's part of, knowing of his identity, will kill him. Dong-jin didn't listen, so he kills her anyway.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Ryu vs. organ dealers.
- Rousseau Was Right
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: None of the main characters get to see the end of the film. Specifically: Ryu's sister commits suicide, Yu-sun accidentally drowns, Mr. Park murders Yeong-mi and Ryu, and Yeong-mi's anarchy group kills Mr. Park.
- Show Within a Show: The cartoon that Yu-sun was watching in Ryu's apartment.
- Slashed Throat: Ryu's stabbing of one of the organ dealers.
- Sliding Scale Of Unavoidable Versus Unforgivable
- The Speechless: Ryu. Although he only makes sniffs of sadness when he buries his dead sister, grunting noises during his fight with the organ dealers and a scream of pain when he gets his Achilles tendons slashed by Dong-jin.
- Thanatos Gambit: Yeong-mi's death ensures Dong-jin's, thanks to her anarchist gang.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ryu stabs a man in the carotid artery. His mother tells him not to pull out the screwdriver because he'll die nearly instantly from blood loss. Guess what he does.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The movie poster is a shot of the second-to-last scene.
- Two Lines, No Waiting
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Dong-jin and Ryu were asked about what they'll do to the people they are looking for. Their response: "Kill them".
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Ryu was a caring brother to his dying sister since young. But his desperation to save her turns him from a nice boy to a kidnapper and eventually, a murderer.
- Viewers Are Morons: The end, when Dong-jin is killed by Yeong-mi's anarchist friends, and the film repeats her earlier threats in voice-over to explain to brain-dead viewers what just happened.
- White Shirt of Death: The two of the three organ dealers who were killed by Ryu. Also, Dong-jin himself at the end.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: So many instances.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Ryu's hair is dyed green.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Dong-jin's death at the hands of Yeong-mi's anarchist gang at the end.