Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a 2002 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook which follows the character Ryu trying to earn enough money for his sister's kidney transplant and the path of vengeance that follows. It is the first part of The Vengeance Trilogy and is succeeded by Oldboy (2003) and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005). The original Korean title means "Vengeance is Mine" or "Revenge is Mine".
In need of money for the operation (and in retaliation for his being fired), Ryu and his friend Yeong-mi, a radical leftist, conspire to kidnap Yu-sun (the daughter of the factory boss who sacked Ryu). The girl stays with Ryu's sister, who takes care of her while the distraught Dong-jin arranges for a ransom. After Ryu collects the money and returns home, he learns that his sister has discovered his scheme and unwilling to be involved or burden Ryu further, has killed herself. Ryu takes Yu-sun and his sister's body into the countryside to bury her by a riverbed. While Ryu mourns, Yu-sun slips into the river and drowns.
Hours later, as Dong-jin mourns his daughter and swears revenge at the river bank, Ryu ambushes and murders the organ dealers, stealing and eating their kidneys. Dong-jin, having investigated the identities of the kidnappers, finds Yeong-mi and begins interrogating her. Yeong-mi apologizes for Yu-sun's death but warns him of her membership in a terrorist organization which, knowing Dong-jin's identity, will kill him if she dies. Dong-jin, unfazed by the threats, tortures her to death. Ryu returns to Yeong-mi's apartment building and discovers the police removing her body on a stretcher. Ryu, consumed with grief, swears vengeance on Dong-jin.
Ryu and Dong-jin stake out each other's homes, each waiting patiently for the other to return. Ryu relents first, returning to his apartment where he is ambushed by Dong-jin. Dong-jin knocks Ryu unconscious and returns him to the riverbed where Yu-sun died. After binding Ryu's hands, an emotional Dong-jin acknowledges that Ryu is a good man but that he has no choice, and slashes Ryu's Achilles tendons, forcing him beneath the water, where he drowns. Dong-jin drags Ryu back to shore, and then drives off to a desolate location to bury the body. Once there he begins to dig a hole, but soon men arrive. They surround and stab Dong-jin to death, finally attaching a note to his chest identifying themselves as the terrorist group of which Yeong-mi was a part. The group leaves Dong-jin dying beside his car and the bloody tools and bags he used to chop up, dismember, and package Ryu's body.
|Song Kang-ho||Park Dong-jin|
|Bae Doona||Cha Yeong-mi|
|Lim Ji-eun||Ryu's sister|
The film was declared the best movie of 2002 by Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, who praised the acting and the story. Bobo Deng from hdfest.com compliments the director of his visuals and the gruesome effects. The reviewer states although the film has extreme violence, it is used to help develop the story.