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Dong-jin (to Ryu): I know you're a good guy... but you know why I have to kill you...
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (2002) is the first installment of Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy and easily the most depressing and most violent of the three films. The plot is a standard Tragedy that makes good use of Irony as the film follows the two protagonists, Ryu and Dong-jin.
Ryu, a deaf-mute aspiring artist, has to leave art school to take care of his ill sister, who badly needs a kidney transplant. Unfortunately he is laid off from his factory job, but he refuses to tell his sister. Out of desperation, he makes a deal with black market organ traffickers to find a kidney for his sister in exchange for one of his own kidneys and 10,000,000 Korean won. The organ dealers swindle him out of his money, leaving him unable to pay for his sister's operation (which cost exactly 10,000,000 Korean won) once her surgeon finally gets a kidney. Ryu and his girlfriend Yeong-mi resort to a kidnapping scheme in order to get the money to save his sister.
As if things weren't already bad enough, the scheme goes awry and the kidnapped girl is accidentally killed. Her father Dong-jin swears revenge on her kidnappers, tracking down Ryu and Yeong-mi. Ryu is in turn tracking down the organ dealers who he believes had set the chain of events in the movie, and he intends to get Revenge as well. Naturally this cannot end well.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Ryu's kidnapping scheme
- Batter Up: Ryu vs. organ dealers
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: Ryu's death
- Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Yeong-mi's leftist group is implied to be made up of these.
- Brick Joke: Yeong-mi's terrorist organization actually exists.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Dong-jin to Yeong-mi
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The torture of Yeong-mi
- Cycle of Revenge
- Death by Irony: Ryu was responsible for Yu-san's drowning, so Dong-jin drowns him. Then immediately after, Yeong-mi's terrorist group kills Dong-jin, just as she had warned him.
- Driven to Suicide: Ryu's sister
- Downer Ending: Heck, downer movie.
- Electric Torture: Yeong-mi dies this way
- Fatal Flaw: Ryu's deafness. He didn't hear Yu-sun calling for help as she drowned; if she had lived, 4/5 of the main characters would have survived the film, making it less of a Downer Ending.
- Gory Discretion Shot: the autopsy
- Grave Robbing: Dong-jin accidentally uncovers Ryu's sister's body
- He Who Fights Monsters / Fallen Hero: Both protagonists end up broken by loss, and then resort to awful things to get revenge.
- High-Pressure Blood: Justified, Ryu stabs a man in the carotid artery.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Ryu's wrongdoings are more often the result of mistakes and bad luck than bad intentions.
- Infant Immortality: Averted
- It Got Worse
- Karmic Death: See Death by Irony
- Kill'Em All: By the end of the film, every major character is dead.
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: See Death by Irony
- Lady Macbeth: Yeong-mi is the one to come up with the kidnapping plan, and pressures Ryu into carrying it out.
- Not So Different
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Ryu vs. organ dealers
- Sliding Scale of Unavoidable Versus Unforgivable
- Looks Like She Is Enjoying It: Ryu's neighbours masturbating to what they assume to be sex but is in fact his sister suffering from her failing kidneys.
- Thanatos Gambit: Yeong-mi's death ensures Dong-jin's, thanks to her anarchist gang.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ryu stabs a man in the carotid artery. His mother tells him not to pull out the blade because he'll die nearly instantly from blood loss. Guess what he does.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The movie poster is a shot of the last scene.
- Two Lines, No Waiting
- Viewers are Morons: The end, when Dong-jin is killed by Yeong-mi's anarchist friends, and the film repeats her earlier threats in voice-over to explain to brain-dead viewers what just happened.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: So many instances.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Ryu's hair is dyed green
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Dong-jin's death at the hands of Yeong-mi's anarchist gang