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

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  29 March 2002 (South Korea)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 43,400 users   Metascore: 56/100
Reviews: 126 user | 134 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:
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 ...
Dong-jin Park's ex-wife
Kwang-rok Oh ...
Jae-woong Park
Seung-wan Ryoo ...
Delivery Boy


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 | Thriller

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
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Did You Know?


Originally director Chan-wook Park wanted the colors to fade to black and white as the film progressed. Budget constraints prevented the color desaturation of 'Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance' but Park would revisit the idea of color desaturation with the Region 3 Special Edition release of 'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance', which included a director's cut where the colors fade to black and white during the film's progression. See more »


When Ryu rides the elevator with the police with Cha Yeong-mi's dead body, the sheet used to cover the body gets "pulled" down instead of coming down on it's own. See more »


Park Dong-jin: I know you're a good guy... but you know why I have to kill you...
See more »


References Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Well crafted and challenging
12 April 2003 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

Vengeance is one of humanity's more lamentable instincts, and one we'll have to overcome as a species one day. When one acts out of vengeance one seeks only to hurt, and when people start hurting each other because they're hurt themselves, everybody ends up hurting and nobody really gains anything.

I think that's the main message Park Chan-Wook wants us to take away from SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, though the movie is complex and oblique and doubtless open to many interpretations. It is a challenging movie in many ways - the story is never spelled out clearly, leaving the viewer to deduce many key events and motivations. Dialogue is sparse, and this is not solely attributable to the fact that the main character is deaf and dumb. The movie also challenges - almost terrorises - with its bleakness and occasional scenes of quite disturbing violence and gore.

SFMV is an ambitious project, and one that doesn't fit into any established cinematic mould. The story, characters, themes and aesthetics are all very unusual and creative. I can't think of any other film that's quite like it, though at times I likened the experience to that of watching certain Takashi Miike movies. Actually, Kim Ki-Duk's movies are probably the closest point of reference, though Park Chan-Wook's film is smarter.

SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE is not a movie I'd choose for a movie night with friends, or one that I'd lend or recommend to most of the people I know. Perhaps I'm unfair in my assessment of my friends, but I can't think of many that would enjoy it. Actually I'm surprised that the film is held in such wide regard, as its not a conventional film or an easy film, and is far more art than entertainment. In my experience that narrows a film's audience significantly, but I've yet to hear anybody express a negative reaction to the film. I guess originality and technical virtuosity are still appreciated after all - perhaps more so by those that have gravitated to Korean cinema in recent years than in other groups, since they are most often to be found there.

With JSA and SFMV, Park Chan-Wook has definitely shown himself to be one of the brightest figures in the new wave of Korean directors. Both are very well crafted in pretty much every respect. The cast of SFMV also deserve commendation for their performances, which are all good. Song Kang-Ho steals the show with a wonderfully understated performance, though.

Recommended, but make sure you know what you're getting.

88 of 101 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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