Peter Schubert’s review published on Letterboxd:
Jumping from Oldboy to Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (while still having to see Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance ) I watched the third and last entry of Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy.
As with Oldboy I needed a bit to get into it, but in the end I again had to stare at the screen, contemplating and loving what I just had seen.
While being not as insanely entertaining as Oldboy , Lady takes (at least in the second half of the movie) a more somber approach to the concept of revenge. Yet, in a striking, but completely working mixture of tones it also displays plenty of dark humour, so much at times that I couldn't help but laugh at some of the more bizarre scenes (the fat and cruel inmate being killed off by bleach or the passing around of the flask comes to mind among others).
Despite all the more comedic elements, Lady feels beautifully poetic. This feeling is heightened by the fantastic classical score and the dazzling visuals. Almost every shot Park Chan-wook composes deserves to be hung up in a museum and be admired by the public, they're that good.
However, Lady isn't just pretty visuals mixed with wit and a great background music. As Oldboy (and presumably Mr. Vengeance ) it also has something interesting to say about the way people take revenge and its consequences. Told here from a woman's point of view, it shows that the revenge taken out by Lee Geum-ja (played by the hauntingly beautiful Lee Young-ae) is more practical in nature. For her the results of the revenge in form of redemption are important to her, not so much as the act of revenge itself as in Oldboy . This nicely illustrates the more pragmatic side of women vs. the more intense and hot-headed nature of men. Unfortunately this more clinical approach also accounts for one of the weaknesses of Lady . The revenge we witness isn't as nearly as engaging as in Park Chan-wook's previous movie, because we don't get to know the characters well enough to care as much. (The scenes with the kids' parents are however extremely disturbin make no mistake and must be horrible to watch for real parents.)
This lack of closeness with the characters keeps it from surpassing Oldboy for me, but is in the end just rather minor quibble for a movie that is beautiful to look at and even makes you think a little bit. After seeing two of Park Chan-wook's movies I can't wait to finish the trilogy!