Sunday, August 8, 2010

Is Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance Trilogy Worth the Blu-Ray Upgrade?

So you've purchased the individual domestic DVD releases of SYMPATHY FOR MR VENGEANCE, OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE. Or maybe the Korean imports are a jewel of your DVD set. But now that there's a Blu-ray boxset release of all three films the question arises; is it worth the double dip? Lets take a look at everything that comes with the set:

SYMPATHY FOR MR VENGEANCE (2002) Unable to afford proper care for his sister dying from kidney failure, Ryu turns to the black market to sell his own organs only to end up cheated of his life savings. His girlfriend urges Ryu to kidnap the daughter of wealthy industrialist Dong-jin, who recently laid him off. Ryu agrees, but unforeseen tragedies turn an innocent con into a merciless quest for revenge. Bound by their personal losses and deep-seated anger, the two men are thrust into a spiral of destruction.

* Audio commentary with director Park Chan-Wook and actor/filmmaker Ryoo Seung-wan
* The Process of Mr. Vengeance
* My Boksu Story
* Crew interviews
* Jonathan Ross on Park Chan-wook
* Soundtrack and photos
* Storyboards
* Original behind-the-scenes feature
* Trailer

OLDBOY (2003) Oh Dae-su is an ordinary Seoul businessman with wife and little daughter who. After a drunken night on the town, is abducted and locked up in a strange and private "prison." No one will tell him why he’s there and who his jailer is. His fury builds to a single-minded focus of revenge. 15 years later, he is unexpectedly freed, given a new suit, a cell-phone and 5 days to discover the mysterious enemy who had him imprisoned. Seeking vengeance on all those involved, he soon finds that his enemy’s tortures are just beginning.

* Audio commentaries:
o Director Park Chan-wooko Park Chan-wook and cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon
o Park Chan-wook and cast
* Five behind-the-scenes featurettes:
o Making The Film – The Cast Remembers
o Production Design
o The Music Score
o CGI Documentary
o Flashback
* Le Grand Prix at Cannes
* Ten deleted scenes with optional commentary
* "The Autobiography of Oldboy": 3-hour video diary.

SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE (2005) Lee Geum-ja is the Lady Vengeance who was sent to prison when she was 19 for a murder case and abduction of a child on behalf of Mr Baek. While in prison, she carefully prepares for her revenge by winning the hearts of her fellow inmates with her kindness, thus earning herself the nickname 'kind Ms. Geum-Ja'. Upon her release from prison after 13 years, she finally sets out to seek revenge on Baek.

* Regular Version
* Fade-To-White versions (with Park Chan-wook introduction to the Fade-To-White version)
* Audio commentaries:
o Director Park Chan-wook and actress Lee Young-ae
o Park Chan-wook, cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon and art director Choi Hyeon-seok
o Critic Richard Peña
* Making-of featurette
* EPK:
o Teaser
o Trailer
o Highlights
o Second making-of featurette
* The Style of Lady Vengeance:
o Visualization
o Production Design
o Costume & Makeup
o Art
o CG
* Deleted scenes with commentary
* Park Chan-wook:
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
* Character interviews
o Lee Geum-ja
o Professor Baek
o Prisoners
o Families
* Lady Vengeance in Venice
* Get Together
* Trailer
* TV spots
* Poster gallery

Two things standout which makes this a must-have addition to your collection. First and foremost, everything has subtitles! In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when importing DVDs was the only way to see many Korean films, including Park Chan-Wook's films, it was nigh-unbearable that all the extra features did not have subtitles, including many of the extras that are now part of this set. Now we are able to enjoy what is being spoken about, which only adds a brand new layer of enjoyment to these cinematic delights. Secondly, is the alternate Fade-to-White version of SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE. Much like the name implies, the film gradually fades from full color to black-and-white over the course of the running length, adding entirely new visual implications to themes set forth in the film.

Released by the recently rechristened Palisades Tartan distribution company, this is one of the few times where double-dipping seems the only natural thing to do.


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