Blu-Ray Review: Park Chan-wook’s ‘Vengeance Trilogy’ Earns Amazing Release

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CHICAGO – Park Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy” stands as one of the most essential cinematic achievements of the new millennium and should be seen anyone who dares call himself a movie fan. The three thematically linked films (although not sequels in a traditional sense) — “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance,” “Oldboy,” and “Lady Vengeance” — have been collected in a gorgeous, extras-packed, simply spectacular release from Palisades Tartan that is now available to all after a limited exclusive deal with Best Buy for the last few months. If you haven’t already, buy it. Now. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

With a ridiculous overflow of special features, perfect video and audio specs, and three must-see movies, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more worthwhile Blu-ray box set this season. And that’s not even taking into account the quality of these remarkable films that serve as a modern commentary on the blindness of vengeance.

The first film, “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance” is also Park’s darkest in tone. “Sympathy” is an excellent film but one that’s almost too close to the bone in its lead character’s spiral into an absolute nightmare. A man goes to extremes to save the life of his sister, who happens to be dying of kidney failure. After “Plan A” goes horribly awry, “Plan B” becomes even more of a disaster. “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance” heralded a filmmaker not only willing to take chances with his storytelling but who refused to pull any emotional punches. It’s a tough, tough film but a rewarding one.

Vengeance Trilogy was released on Blu-ray on June 8th, 2010
Vengeance Trilogy was released on Blu-ray on June 8th, 2010
Photo credit: Palisades Tartan

And it was topped in just the next year by one of the best films of the ’00s, the masterpiece “Oldboy”. A man is abducted and held prisoner for years. Upon his escape, he seeks nothing but vengeance on whoever took him hostage. But it turns out that he’s asking the wrong questions and has been blinded by his one driving emotion. Technically mesmerizing and thematically complex, “Oldboy” is incredible.

Finally, “Lady Vengeance” (sometimes referred to as “Sympathy For Lady Vengeance”) came out in 2005 and further cemented Park’s skills as a visual artist. “Lady Vengeance” looks absolutely amazing and thematically ties together the entire trilogy in its tale of a woman wrongfully imprisoned for over a decade and the complex planning she does to find justice.

Vengeance Trilogy was released on Blu-ray on June 8th, 2010
Vengeance Trilogy was released on Blu-ray on June 8th, 2010
Photo credit: Palisades Tartan

The first thing one notices about the Blu-ray transfers of the “Vengeance Trilogy” is that the films sound absolutely amazing. The 7.1 HD Master Audio track on “Oldboy” is a thing of beauty and “Lady Vengeance” has a 5.1 DTS track that’s almost-as-notable. As far as video transfers go, “Lady” looks the best in 1080p simply because it contains the most visual flourishes but all three films are well-transferred.

The special features in the “Vengeance Trilogy” border on overwhelming. We’re talking about dozens of hours of time that fans could spend with just a three-film set. The most notable is the first stateside inclusion of the “Fade to White Version” of “Lady Vengeance,” in which the film slowly turns to black-and-white in the final act. The last image of the film is so striking in b & w that I have to say I prefer it and I thematically like the idea that the color is draining from this woman’s life as her story gets darker and darker. Cool stuff.

The rest of the bonus material is so comprehensive that it’s difficult to even review it. Seven commentaries, dozens of deleted scenes, HOURS of featurettes, storyboards, trailers, interviews; pick your favorite. Just pick up the set. Trust me. This is how Blu-ray should be done.

Special Features on “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance”
o Audio Commentary with Director Park Chan-wook and Actor/Filmmaker Ryoo Seong-wan
o “The Process of Mr. Vengeance”
o “My Boksu Story”
o Crew Interviews
o Jonathan Ross on Park Chan-wook
o Soundtrack & Photos
o Storyboards
o Original Behind the Scenes Feature
o Trailer

Vengeance Trilogy was released on Blu-ray on June 8th, 2010
Vengeance Trilogy was released on Blu-ray on June 8th, 2010
Photo credit: Palisades Tartan

Special Features on “Oldboy”
o Audio Commentary with Director Park Chan-wook
o Audio Commentary with Director and Cinematographer
o Audio Commentary with Director and Cast
o 10 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
o Original Trailer
o 5 Behind the Scenes Documentaries
o Cast & Crew Interview
o “Le Grand Prix at Cannes”
o “The Autobiography of Oldboy” — A 3 hour video diary

Special Features on “Lady Vengeance”
o Director Park Chan-wook and Actress Lee Young-ae Commentary
o Director, DoP and Art Director Commentary
o Critic Richard Pena Commentary
o Making of “Lady Vengeance”
o Style of “Lady Vengeance”
o Deleted Scenes with Commentary
o Interview with Park Chan-wook
o Park Chan-wook, “Mr. Vengeance”
o Photography Featurette
o “Director’s Choice” — A short film recommended by Park Chan-wook
o Character Interviews
o “Lady Vengeance in Venice”
o Trailer, TV Spots, Poster Gallery

‘Vengeance Trilogy’ is released by Palisades Tartan and was directed by Park Chan-wook. It was released on June 15th, 2010 and is rated R. content director Brian Tallerico

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