The Vengeance Trilogy

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The Vengeance Trilogy
The Vengeance Trilogy Blu-ray
Directed byPark Chan-wook
Screenplay by
  • Park Chan-wook (13)
  • Lee Jae-sun (1)
  • Lee Jong-yong (1)
  • Lee Mu-yeong (1)
  • Hwang Jo-yun (2)
  • Lim Chun-hyeong (2)
  • Jeong Seo-Gyeong (3)
Produced by
  • Lee Jae-sun (1)
  • Lim Jin-gyu (1)
  • Kim Dong-joo (2)
  • Lim Seung-yong (2)
  • Cho Young-wuk (3)
  • J. J. Harris (3)
  • Beth Kono (3)
  • Lee Chun-yeong (3)
  • Lee Tae-hun (3)
  • Chung Chung-hoon (23)
  • Kim Byeong-il (1)
Edited by
Music by
  • CJ Entertainment (1)
  • Studio Box (1)
  • Egg Films (2)
  • Show East (2)
  • CJ Capital Investment (3)
  • Centurion Investment (3)
  • Ilshin Capital Investments (3)
  • Korea Capital Investment (3)
  • Moho Films (3)
  • Samsung Venture Capital (3)
  • TSJ Entertainment (3)
Distributed by
Release date
CountrySouth Korea
  • Korean (13)
  • English (3)
  • Japanese (3)
BudgetTotal (3 films):
$11.5 million[1][2][3]
Box officeTotal (3 films):
$40.7 million[4][5][6]

The Vengeance Trilogy (Korean: 복수 삼부작) is a South Korean thematically-linked film trilogy directed by Park Chan-wook, comprising Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005). Each film deals with the themes of revenge,[7] ethics,[8] violence and salvation. The films are not narratively connected and were dubbed a trilogy by international critics due to their thematic links.[9][10] The trilogy is considered a revision of the European revenge tradition set amid the 21st century globalization traumas in South Korea.[11]


Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)[edit]

The first installment in Park's trilogy was the 2002 film, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a bleak and violent tale of revenge gone wrong. It tells the story of a deaf-mute man who kidnaps a young girl to pay for his sister's much-needed kidney transplant. When the young girl accidentally dies, her bereaved father goes on a search for answers and vengeance. The film did relatively poorly at the box office in South Korea finishing 30th in ticket rank. It covered less than half its production costs in both domestic and international box office gates, where in the U.S. it garnered gross revenues of $45,243.[4]

Oldboy (2003)[edit]

Park's next film in the trilogy was the hugely successful 2003 film, Oldboy. It told the story of a man who is imprisoned for fifteen years and then released with no explanation as to why he was confined and released. Now, he has been given five days to learn his captor's true identity and find out why he was imprisoned, or his new love interest will be killed. The film was very well received at film festivals and at the box office in South Korea. It won the Grand Prix award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and received positive reviews from critics. The film has gained a cult following in the years following its release and is considered a modern classic.

A remake was directed by Spike Lee in 2013.[12]

Lady Vengeance (2005)[edit]

The third and final installment in the trilogy was the 2005 film, Lady Vengeance. The film tells the tale of an innocent young woman released from prison after doing time for a child-killer still at large. Once freed, she seeks out her long-lost daughter and unveils her plan for revenge against the ghastly man for whom she served time. This film was also well received by critics and South Korean audiences alike. It grossed $7,382,034 in its opening week and competed for the Golden Lion at the 62nd Venice International Film Festival in September 2005.[13]

Recurring cast members[edit]

Actor Roles
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Oldboy Lady Vengeance
Oh Kwang-rok Anarchist Suicidal man Se-hyun's father
Song Kang-ho Park Dong-jin Hired assassin 1 (cameo)
Shin Ha-kyun Ryu Hired assassin 2 (cameo)
Choi Min-sik Oh Dae-su Mr. Baek
Yoo Ji-tae Lee Woo-jin Adult Won-mo (cameo)
Kang Hye-jung Mi-do TV announcer (cameo)
Oh Dal-su Park Cheol-woong Mr. Chang
Kim Byeong-ok Mr. Han Preacher


Kim Se Young explained the Trilogy's violence as "an allegorical tool which serves to convey social commentary pointed at the processes of democratization and capitalism in South Korea".[14]


Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance 54% (56 reviews)[15] 56 (21 reviews)[16]
Oldboy 82% (147 reviews)[17] 77 (32 reviews)[18]
Lady Vengeance 76% (86 reviews)[19] 75 (23 reviews)[20]

Home media[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Tartan Films issued a box set on DVD. In the United States, Vivendi Entertainment released the same set.[21][22][23][24][25]


  1. ^ Boksuneun naui geot (2002) - Box office / business
  2. ^ Oldeuboi (2003) - Box office / business
  3. ^ Associated, The (13 March 2014). "Movies | Movie Times | Tickets Online | MoviesTrailers -". Archived from the original on 18 November 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  4. ^ a b "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2005)". Box Office Mojo. 16 February 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Oldboy (2005)". Box Office Mojo. 8 December 2005. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Lady Vengeance (2006)". Box Office Mojo. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  7. ^ Choe, Steve (2009). "Love Your Enemies: Revenge and Forgiveness in Films by Park Chan-wook". Korean Studies. 33: 29–51. ISSN 0145-840X. JSTOR 23719259.
  8. ^ Herbert, D. (2012). "Trilogy as Third Term: Historical Narration in Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy". Film trilogies : new critical approaches. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 181–197. doi:10.1057/9780230371972_10. ISBN 978-0-230-37197-2.
  9. ^ Park Chan-Wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy Archived 14 July 2012 at at the Dryden Theatre.
  10. ^ Film Review: The Vengeance Trilogy Archived 23 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine by film critic Richard Peña at Cine21 (in Korean)
  11. ^ Dodson-Robinson, Eric (2019). "Agents of the Other in Chan-wook Park's The Vengeance Trilogy". Revenge, Agency, and Identity from European Drama to Asian Film Agents of Vengeance. Leiden: BRILL. p. 128. doi:10.1163/9789004401280_008. ISBN 9789004401280.
  12. ^ allmovie (Oldboy - Overview)
  13. ^ "Palisades | Tartan". 29 September 1944. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  14. ^ Kim, Se Young (2010). A Sociohistorical Contextual Analysis of the Use of Violence in Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Ohio University. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Oldboy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Oldboy". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Lady Vengeance". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  21. ^ "DVD Outsider: The Vengeance Trilogy DVD overview". Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  22. ^ "Palisades Tartan Releasing Vengeance Trilogy DVD Box Set". 28 September 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  23. ^ Brian Gallagher (30 September 2009). "Chan-Wook Park's 'Vengeance Trilogy' Comes to DVD on November 24th". Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Vengeance Trilogy Blu-ray: Tin | Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance". Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance/Oldboy/Lady Vengeance): Movies & TV". Retrieved 17 March 2014.

External links[edit]