expressed my views on the third instalment of Park Chan-wook's
Trilogy in my coverage of the single disc DVD
release, which you can access here.
is part of a six disc, three film set. Sympathy
for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy
have been reviewed seperately.
The print used here is known as the Fade to White version,
in which the colour is slowly drained over the course of
the film until the image is monochrome. Park's intention
was that this would symbolise a Geum-ja's journey from vengeance-fuelled
anger to a sort of redemptive purity. Whether that comes
across is another matter, and whether you need this visual
assistance to read what is perfectly evident in the narrative
itself is questionable. I was certainly a little cynical
about the idea, but when I watched it I was surprised how effective
it proved to be, although more for the sense of the alteration of
tone and mood, the stripping of the colour for a finale
in which characters are asked to make a decision in which
there are only two possible responses, where action and morality
are reduced to a simple black and white – or rather black
OR white – decision.
Which version is Park's preferred one is hard to fathom
and the extra features go no way to clarifying this. Sometimes
it is suggested that this is the version that was always
intended, but on one of the documentaries Park states that
although he had been toying with the idea for some time
and considered it for this film, he abandoned it early on
in the production. Certainly the film has at no point been
lit for black-and-white – without colour to separate
foreground from background, higher contrast lighting and
a stronger use of top or back light is the usual approach
– and it seems likely that the version included here
is something of a supposition on how the film might have
looked, rather than how it should.
the Fade to White edition of the film, this is obviously
a different transfer to the one on Tartan's original UK
DVD release, which was an imperfect NTSC to PAL print. The
transfer here would appear to be a PAL one – the reduced
running time and solid freeze frames seem to confirm this
– but it still falls a little short of the quality
found on both the Sympathy
for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy
discs, at least in consistency, with some night scenes lacking
shadow detail or solid black levels. Brighter sequences fare
better, and in other respects the print is definitely superior
to the previous release, with better sharpness and colour
reproduction (while it's still there, of course). The only
real issue is the loss of highlight detail in some shots
– see the screen grabs below for an example of the differences.
The three soundtracks from the original release can also
be found here, namely Dolby 2.0 stereo, Dolby 5.1 surround
and DTS 5.1 surround. Once again they are more subdued that
I would have expected, but there is a far bigger issue here
not found on the earlier release. For
about two chapters in the later stages the sound goes out of sync with the
picture by almost a second. I first noticed it in the
attempted alleyway kidnap, where the sound of blows and gunshots just did not match the picture, but in the
scene where Geum-ja forces the translation of a message
for her daughter it is painfully obvious. Sync is restored
before the end, but this seriously interfered with my
involvement in the film. For the record, the sync issue affects
all three tracks, and I did try the disc on a number of
DVD player/TV combinations and two computer DVD drives with
the same result. This really should have been picked up
on and corrected.
original release was light on extras, something that has
been rectified by this version.
and Actress Commentary
Park Chan-wook and lead actress Lee Jeong-ae talk about
the cast, the film in general and share their memories of
the shoot, but also dip into the set and costume design,
the cinematography, a research visit to a real prison (cleaner
than expected), location filming, aspects of Jeong-ae's
performance and a whole lot more. There are a few brief
pauses and some rather lightweight moments, but this is
still an enjoyable and interesting track. The track is in
Korean with English subtitles, and cannot be changed using the Audio button on your remote.
of Photography and Art Director Commentary
Cinematographer Chung Jong-hoon and art director Cho Hwa-sung
join an allergy-afflicted Park Chan-wook for a discussion
on various aspects of the film's production. The expected
emphasis on the film's look, and especially the camerawork,
lighting and set design is perhaps not surprising, and there's plenty to talk about
given the importance of both to the film's feel. CG work
you could easily have missed is pointed out and the use
of music and editing is intermittently covered, as is the
gradual transition from colour to black and white. The banter has its
amusing moments too, not least the observation that dressing
crew members in orange prison uniforms made them look like
TeleTubbies. Another good track, once again conducted in
Korean with English subtitles.
So-called 'expert' commentaries are a decidedly mixed
bunch – at their best (Bey Logan, Christopher Frayling)
they can provide a wealth of background detail on a film,
but far too often we have to listen to charmless academics
pointing out what should be obvious to all but the most
the most disinterested viewers. Pena's commentary here falls
largely into that category, as he describes the shots and
editing and arrangement of actors in frame, but told me
little I hadn't already worked out for myself. There is
more meat to the analysis of the film's structure and substructure
and his comparisons with other film works, but you'll learn
a lot more from the other two commentaries and simply paying
attention to the film itself.
A short introduction in which Park Chan-wook talks in part
about how the movie ends, so don't watch this before seeing
the film for the first time.
Making of Lady Vengeance (10:48)
An EPK that offers a brief look at the making of the film
that is busy with behind-the-scenes footage, including some
amusingly light-heated moments such as Choi Min-sik fluffing
his lines and crew members with bananas stuffed in their
mouths to stop them laughing. A cheerless voice-over passes
up no opportunity to compliment the fortitude, bravery and
skill of the cast and crew.
section titled The Style of Lady Vengeance
contains five featurettes.
Director Park Chan-wook and cinematographer Chung Jong-hoon
discuss the photographic style of the film, the use of
a more static camera and the gradual fade to black-and-white.
Production designer Jo Hwa-seong tells us about the design
of sets and the use of colour as an expressionistic device.
Includes footage of set construction and computer models
of the set designs, all very interesting stuff.
and Make Up (8:07)
Make-up artist Song Jong-hee and costume designer Jo Sang-gyeong
explain the role of their contributions to the film. This
is an interesting look that an area that rarely gets the
attention it deserves.
Special art director Hwang Ho-Kyeun takes us on a fascinating
trip through the mechanical effects, including an head
wound and the Baek-Dog from Geum-ja's dream.
Another worthwhile piece in which FX director Lee Jeon-Hyong
shows us some of the film's CG work. The transformation
of a landscape from greenery to show is particularly impressive.
Scenes with Commentary
Alternate cuts of seven scenes with commentary by Park Chan-wook
and Lee Jeong-ae. Of interest, but nothing earth-shattering.
A couple run for long enough to have commentary dead spots.
section called Characters has
four featurettes. All are of interest.
An interview with the actress cut with behind-the-scenes
footage, kicked off by a back-slapping tribute to her
The actor talks about playing the movie's bad guy, and
suggests that if the character did exist in the real world then he
should be eliminated from it. He describes playing the
role as "like an engineering major joining a literature
club." He also reveals that following the film's
release, "Go screw yourself" became a popular
phrase for a while in Korea.
The actresses who play Geum-ja's cell mates talk about
their characters and working with director Park.
In a similar style to the above featurette, but for a
different group (I'm not going to spoil a key plot point by
and TV Spots
Nicely edited Korean original.
Korean Trailer (1:57)
Another very nicely edited trailer that is suggestive without
giving too much away.
The trailer you'll find on the original release, and one
that gives away too much.
Spots (0:33, 0:23, 0:18)
Cut-down versions of the Korean trailer. The "Go
screw yourself" line features prominently.
Fade to White version works better than I'd have thought,
and the transfer here is an improvement on the one on
the UK DVD release. The extras are busy and plentiful, and
it would all be good news were it not for that sound sync
issue, which really annoys and is the only real blot on
an otherwise fine box set.