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the director -- named Jang Hyun-seong(20)

Time:2018-03-08 00:04Shoes websites Click:

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Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

As for Lady Vengeance's depiction of violence, I cannot help but feel that film critics worldwide sometimes seem to employ a double standard: when European filmmakers show taboo materials, it's Art: when Asian filmmakers do it, it's Extreme Cinema. There are indeed supremely horrific images in Lady Vengeance, but none as graphic as children being raped in full view as in Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl/A ma soeur (2001) or in Agnieszka Holland's Olivier, Olivier (1992).

Lady Vengeance might feel rather subdued, even lackadaisical, for some viewers with a built-in expectation bred by Park's previous works. Its narrative might strike other viewers as meandering and unfocused. Yet others might take issue with the subplot involving Geum-ja's daughter. Geum-ja's English communication with the realistically pouty teen is handled reasonably well (certainly an improvement over Lee's awkward accent in JSA), although whether Baek's English translation of her dialogue in a key sequence will impress non-Korean viewers as funny (as it does Koreans) is open to question. Despite these potential flaws, however, in Lady Vengeance we are again presented with a unique vision of hybrid cinema, the kind of which we are not likely to see anywhere in the world, not to mention Korea. Morally complex, aesthetically accomplished, superbly acted, Lady Vengeance allows Park Chan-wook to bring the trilogy to a close on his own terms, by implicating us viewers directly in Geum-ja's act of vengeance and challenging us to see ourselves in her predicament.

In the third and final section, photographed in near-monochromatic colors (some prints will be reportedly shown with digital effects that gradually turn the film into black and white), Park lays out a deeply moving yet perplexing (especially so for non-Catholics, I suspect) vista of Geum-ja, perhaps standing in for all the main characters in the entire Revenge trilogy, reaching out for salvation, weighed down by her guilt.

I confess the film overwhelmed my defenses completely by this point: I was muttering to Miss Geum-ja onscreen, "Receive the Host. Save yourself. Save your soul." But how can she? And how can we?

In ignoscendo ignoscimur. In forgiving, we are forgiven. Those who commit the sin of revenge have condemned their souls. And are we not they, as well?      ()

    Welcome to Dongmakgol

A ragtag group of North Korean soldiers led by Commander Lee (Jeong Jae-young) are ambushed. Only Lee, Private Jang (Im Ha-ryong, Arahan, The Big Swindle) and teenager Taeg-ki (Ryoo Deok-hwan) survive. Encountering a strange young girl Yeo-il (Kang Hye-jeong), they find a temporary refuge in her village, called Dongmakgol. Its residents are blissfully unaware that the Korean War has been raging on. The villagers also offer refuge to South Korean soldiers, Lieutenant Pyo (Shin Ha-kyun) and the medic Moon (Seo Jae-gyung, the young monk from Spring, Summer, Winter... and Spring) as well as Smith, an American pilot (Steve Taschler). After a tense standoff, resulting in the blowing up of the village's warehouse, the soldiers agree to a reluctant truce, at least until the warehouse and its contents are restored.

Based on the long-running play written by Jang Jin (Someone Special, Guns & Talks), Dongmakgol is directed by Park Kwang-hyun, previously responsible for the beautiful "My Nike" segment in the Jang-produced omnibus film (2002). Based on this short, I had some inkling of Park's skills with visual imagery. Nonetheless, I confess that my immediate reaction upon reading about the film was "How could he possibly pull this off?" A feel-good fantasy about the Korean War?

Welcome to Dongmakgol

Indeed, there were so many ways in which Dongmakgol could have gone wrong. It could have turned out to be a "Disneyesque" melodrama sickeningly condescending in its portrayal of the villagers. Conversely, it could have been a lugubrious nationalist "epic," turning the villagers into puppet Victims of American Imperialism, climaxing with interminable shots of the Korean soldiers mowing down American paratroopers with machine guns, blood and guts splurging in slow motion. It could have been one of those "message" films in which the soldiers learn the true meaning of Peace by being assimilated into a Korean Shangri-la, its characters breaking out into song-and-dance numbers in between sage exchanges dispensing fortune-cookie "Eastern" wisdoms.

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