Samuel Johnson once said “Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.”
The Korean film industry seems to share this stance as in the last 10 years quite a few films have been released, which are high on vengeance. It’s not that revenge movies have not been made elsewhere, but the Korean films have taken the meaning of revenge and brutality to a different level. It’s not only the level of brutality but with the operatic intensity it is crafted makes them special.
I have had the chance to see few of the many movies.
Please read at your own risk, as it might contain spoilers
The film follows the story of one Oh Dae-Su, who is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor’s motives. When he is finally released, Dae-Su finds himself on the path of vengeance towards his captors and the reasons behind his captivity. More than Dae-Su’s revenge, I was more intrigued by the character of Woo-Jin, who had orchestrated the captivity of Dae-Su. To me he showed the extent to which a human can go to avenge the death of a loved one. He made sure that Dae-Su will never be able to return to a normal state in life, scarred forever, the ultimate revenge. The film never gave an option for forgiveness. A must watch, but not for everyone.
I Saw the Devil
The movie is basically revolves around the age old formula; an officer’s family has been victim of a crime and the office discards his title in favor of a personal vendetta against the villain. But wait there is a twist. While chasing the monster that killed his wife, he himself becomes a monster. He doesn’t kill him when he finds him, but keeps on foiling his plans and torturing him both physically and emotionally. Kind of cat and mouse game. There is so much torture and gore in the movie, but still the movie is not unwatchable, simply because the movie is beautifully filmed and carefully structured.
Sympathy for Mr. Vegeance
It follows the story of a factory worker Ryu, who in order to earn money for his sister’s kidney transplant, kidnaps the daughter Dong-jin, a friend of his factory boss who had fired him. What follows later is series of mishaps, deaths and finally acts of vengeance. It is different from other films in the sense that vengeance goes around in a circle. Though not in the league of Oldboy or I saw the Devil, but it is still a good watch.
Sympathy for Lady Vegeance
This movie finds a woman seeking revenge after she is forced to confess for a crime she did not commit. After spending 13 years in prison, she makes a lot of friends who team up with her in her quest. And she makes sure that everyone who suffered because of the real killer, gets to take part in the revenge. And if you want to enjoy the movie more, watch it in the “Fade to black and white version” in which throughout the film the color gradually fades until it is totally black and white in the end
These are the few films which I have watched. The others in the list are The Chaser, Bedevilled, A Bittersweet Life, Revenge, etc.