Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). This daily series comes courtesy of Tom Giammarco, the author of the Seen in Jeonju website, surely one of the best resources for information on classic Korean cinema on the web. Enjoy!
Over the past couple of days, I have been browsing through a huge number of revenge movies and I was left with two observations. The first is that I really needed to make a working definition of what a revenge movie is to better weed through the literally hundreds of possibilities I was looking at. The second observation was that it seemed to me that the majority of films, with the major exception of the imitation Hong Kong kung fu films, the person seeking revenge was, more often than not, a woman... at least in revenge films made before the year 2000.
To work through the first point, I eliminated all horror films despite the fact that ghosts are generally motivated by a need for revenge. Horror is a completely different genre than what I felt the theme of REVENGE WEEK is about, despite the fact that a ghost's motivation is almost always revenge. That does not mean that a revenge film has to be realistic. I would consider A Teenage Hooker Becomes Killing Machine as a revenge flick even with its science fiction elements. Also, someone seeking revenge in a movie does not automatically make it a revenge film if the motivation is not all-encompassing. Of course, a character may give up on his or her revenge plot before it is complete, but I would still consider it a revenge movie is it was a major element in the story. I have a good example of that which I am saving for later in the week.
Since most of the films that I will be dealing with this week are about women avenging wrongs wrought by man, I decided that today I would give an example of a man seeking revenge. The image above and the trailer below are from the film I Have Nothing made in 1991. Directed by Im Seon, it is the story of Choi Kang-ta who was raised an orphan by a monk on a lonely island. The monk trains Kang-ta in how to fight, preparing him for a dangerous future. Upon reaching his 24th year, the monk explains to Kang-ta that he pulled his pregnant mother from the sea where she had been thrown by some men wishing to drown her. Unable to save her, he promised to tell Kang-ta her story when he was old enough.
Kang-ta heads to the city to find out more about his background and avenge his mother's death. Along the way, he earns the respect of several small time swindlers and thugs and winds up putting together his own gang. This brings him to the attention of his mother's killer, Kang-ta's own father, who wants to see the young man dead. The older man had married Kang-ta's mother for position and money as her father is an elderly, wealthy man--with gang ties of his own. Kang-ta's father throws the power of the gang at his son trying to stop the young fighter from making contact with his grandfather and telling his story.
Click here to view the trailer to I Have Nothing
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