Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

I assume at this point that we’re all numb to the never-ending stream of remakes flowing into our theaters. Another one is announced and we no longer sigh or shake our heads. Outrage is long gone. All that’s left is passive acceptance. But every once in a while, a remake actually has the potential for greatness (unlike, say Robocop). It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that there’s a few genuinely talented filmmakers infiltrating those vast legions of action figure, board game and internet meme adaptations to secretly produce something that’s not a colossal waste of talent, time and money. The announcement that Hany Abu-Assad has signed on to remake Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance gives me that same warm and fuzzy feeling. Abu-Assad won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Omar, and his previous film Paradise Now was similarly lauded with all manner of awards. This Mr. Vengeance redux might be the rare case where a remake sees an artist offer his own unique take on a film he or she cares deeply about, rather than a cheap ploy to churn out some action figures (or in the case of Stretch Armstrong, to give those action figures the cinematic treatment they apparently deserve).

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park lady vengeance

Park Chan-wook is one of South Korea’s top directors, and ever since his 2003 hit Oldboy crossed the ocean to rave reviews and cult status he’s become the most familiar Korean filmmaker to American audiences too. Of course, those audiences have remained small as foreign language films rarely reach or appeal to the masses. That starts to change this weekend though as Park’s English debut, Stoker, hit theaters on Friday in limited release with plans to expand throughout the month. (Check here to see if it will be playing near you.) While many of our readers are already familiar with Park’s films, many others will experience his work for the first time with Stoker. It’s a good movie, a beautiful one in fact, but it’s far from his best. (My review here.) That said, once you see it expect to walk out of the theater jonesing for more of his unique and endlessly fascinating vision. To that end, because I love sharing brilliant foreign films with fellow movie-lovers, I humbly offer up this list of Park’s Korean films ranked least best to best along with where you can find them…

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we discuss the finer points of something or other.

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Park Chan-wook’s brilliant trio of revenge-themed films consists of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. And from the look of it, they are all on the block for American remakes.

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