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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
"Boksuneun naui geot" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 36,801 users   Metascore: 56/100
Reviews: 122 user | 130 critic | 21 from

A recently laid off factory worker kidnaps his former boss' daughter, hoping to use the ransom money to pay for his sister's kidney transplant.


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Credited cast:
Ha-kyun Shin ...
Ji-Eun Lim ...
Ryu's Sister
Bo-bae Han ...
Se-dong Kim ...
Chief of Staff
Dae-yeon Lee ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ju-bong Gi
Gyu-su Jeong
Husband of Dong-jin's ex-wife's
Kan-hie Lee ...
Park Dong-jin's ex-wife
Kwang-rok Oh ...
Seung-wan Ryoo ...
Delivery Boy
Retarded Boy at River


In Seoul, Ryu, a deaf worker has a sister who needs a kidney transplant. He tries to donate his own kidney to his sister, but his blood type is not compatible with hers. When Ryu is fired from Ilshin Electronics, he meets illegal dealers of organs, and the criminals propose that he give them his kidney plus ten millions Won to obtain a kidney suitable for his sister. Ryu accepts the trade, but he does not have money to pay for the surgery. His anarchist revolutionary girlfriend Cha Young-mi convinces him to kidnap Yossun, the daughter of his former employer Park, who owns Ilshin Electronics. However, a tragedy happens, generating revenge and a series of acts of violence. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Revenge Was Never This Sweet


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong gruesome violence, strong sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

29 March 2002 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,827 (USA) (19 August 2005)


$45,243 (USA) (10 February 2006)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the scene when Cha is beating Ryu after finding out about the scam, Ha-kyun Shin accidentally kneed Doona Bae in the mouth. She immediately stopped and cried for a brief moment. See more »


In the ransom photo of Yoosun, she is wearing the necklace Ryu made. However, he hadn't given her the necklace when he took the photo, it was later, when he traded the necklace for her doll. See more »


Cha Yeong-mi: The bad image kidnappers get is because of kids getting killed. But we're different. Give us the money and we'll return the kid pronto.
See more »


Featured in Greatest Expectations (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

A Sensible Review
3 April 2004 | by (boston) – See all my reviews

I've been reading over user comments on Sympathy, and I'm pretty shocked. What gore- fest were you people watching? I remember only a couple of really "gory" moments, but there was nothing that was too extreme (save for Ryu's murderous assault towards the end, and the very very brief torture scene). If you have weak stomachs, don't watch movies with any bit of gore in them. You're the wrong kind of people to be reviewing this kind of film. As a critic you should be able to put personal biases aside and give a fair and balanced review of the movie in question, but you've let a little bit of violence offend you. And that's not a bad thing, it's just that letting biases get in the way can really ruin a review.

Violence in cinema isn't a terrible thing. When there's blood on the screen and people write off the film as tripe automatically, it bothers me to no end. It's blood. So what? When the movie turns into something that only progresses to get to another gory, violent scene, that's a problem, and if you felt that way about Sympathy I feel for you and I apologize. That said, I definitely did not see it as being something that sought to continue just to display more brutality. The scenes in question were meant to create tension and drama, and in some ways show progression of character. They were not meant to be there simply because blood = good, and again, I do feel badly for anybody who took it that way, because that really isn't any fun.

What was fun, for me at least, was the whole of this film. I tend to be wary whenever "different abled" people are cast in lead roles in films, although you'll never hear me use that term in a serious tone. I must admit, having the lead be deaf made me nervous, as I've seen some pretty bad films and television programs featuring deaf characters. In my junior year in high school, I learned ASL, and I furthered the experience for years beyond that. Whenever I see any character, be they deaf, blind, mute, crippled, etc, portrayed in any film, I pray that the filmmakers get it right and not make a stereotype and a mockery of the character.

In the case of Sympathy, Ryu was excellent. His signing, though not the American Sign Language that I'm familiar with (it's Korea, for crying out loud), was spot-on, from the way he physically articulated the signs, to his facial expressions per sign. Shin Ha-Kyun plays Ryu perfectly, in fact he's so good that I am tempted to say that he's probably deaf himself. The way that Chan-wook Park makes use of his protagonist's deafness also is excellent-- his cuts, from Ryu signing to a black screen with translations of the signs, are really great. The, "person-is-speaking-but-you-here-nothing" shots are also wonderful, as is the shot of Ryu in the factory wearing nothing to protect his ears while everyone else is. It's these little things that help create the atmosphere, and to build on Ryu. Wonderful stuff.

Chan-wook Park also tends to get very inventive with the camera in other ways as well, so much so that I think he's one of the most unique directors around today. I want to see more of his technique-- thus, I am looking forward to seeing Oldboy whenever I have the chance to. He doesn't, however, go too crazy with things, which I appreciate, since a lot of directors try to be inventive and ultimately give you annoying camera work that seems more like that of an amateur than that of an auteur.

The story follows a deaf man (Ryu), who gives all of his saved money to thugs in order to get a kidney transplant for his sister (he was going to use it to just have a legal transfer done, but nobody matches his sister's blood type). He wakes up to find himself down a kidney, down 10,000 won, and down all of his clothing, and he later finds out that the hospital has found a matching donor, much to his chagrin. With no other recourse (as they see it), Ryu and his girlfriend kidnap the daughter of Dong-jin Park and hold her for ransom. With cycles of vengeance firmly implanted in the story, Chan-wook gives us a riveting narrative as Dong-jin Park searches desperately for the people who took his child. In the end, does everyone get their revenge?

Chan-wook would have you believe so, but he's more interested in generating sympathy for each character, as everyone is a victim in their own way, even the criminals (hence the title Sympathy For Mr.Vengeance). Many people become their own Mr.Vengeance, whether it is Ryu kidnapping Dong-jin Park's daughter for money as well as for retribution (Dong-jin fires Ryu from his job early in the film, after all), or the aching father hunting down the kidnappers one by one. It's one of the the few films I've seen do this, and it's something that I appreciate greatly. Not all criminals are motivated by an uncompromising hatred lurking within them-- so what does motivate them? You'll see.

If you're looking for something creative and fresh, and you don't mind a few graphic scenes here and there, then I would recommend this. ********* (out of ten)

133 of 151 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Cha Yeong-mi's voiceover near end MichelleYeohFan
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