It is day three of Modern Korean Cinema's REVENGE WEEK and I continue looking back at forgotten movies of past decades where vengence plays a major role. Today's film is the awkwardly titled Report of the Daughter-in-Law's Rice Flower as it is called on the KMDb but also known as Report of Cowwheat (Daum). It is a film from 1989 directed by Ryu Jae-moo and starring Na Yeong-hee. In this film, Soon-yi has tragedy after tragedy heaped on her before she finally snaps and seeks revenge.
She starts out as a small town girl who becomes pregnant after sleeping with her best friend, Chang-soo. However, he leaves before learning that she is carrying his child. Much later, she goes to Seoul to be with him only to be surprised that he wants nothing to do with her. Distraught, but unwilling to remove Chang-soo from her life, Soon-yi gets a job in her former lover's company and works under him just so she can be near him. Whether or not her plan to win him back would ever work becomes a moot point when Soon-yi sees the terrible conditions at the workplace and comes to the conclusion that the workers need to unionize. This does not go over well with Chang-soo who arranges for the troublesome Soon-yi to be kidnapped and held in the red-light district to work as a sex slave.
Soon-yi does not take this quietly and she kills one of her captors in an escape attempt. This lands her in jail where her bitterness grows. Eventually released because of the circumstances in the case, Soon-yi goes back to work in the garment factory but she is harassed by the sewing machine repairman. He eventually attempts to kill her at Chang-soo's request. She kills him first, but realizes that a second murder in self-defense, especially of a man whom she was not getting along with at work, would not be treated as leniently as her first killing. Knowing that she is likely to lose her freedom and all chances that she has at getting revenge for her predictment against the man behind it, Soon-yi goes through with her plan to kill Chang-soo who was on his way to kill her personally. Soon-yi then attempts to flee Seoul but finds she has to shoot her way out as the police are out in force to stop her killing spree. Alas, Soon-yi does not survive to see the credits role.
I might not have considered this film too seriously for REVENGE WEEK except for one major point. There are points in the film where I was strongly reminded of Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. Oh, the reason for vengeance is entirely different and, let's face it, Soon-yi is no Geum-ja. The latter planned everything down to the smallest detail while Soon-yi just has things happen to her. One of the most obvious ones is Soon-yi's refusal of the tofu after being released from prison. If you watch any number of Korean films involving crime or gangs, you will have seen someone eating a hunk of bean curd immediately after being released from jail. This is to symbolize a new start – the pure white tofu reprsenting the ex-con's spirit which has paid for its sin and now has the chance to live 'white' (pure) as famously said in Sympathy for Lady Vengeance before Geum-ja drops her face in the cake. Soon-yi is having none of that. She is already planning revenge against Chang-soo and no such desire to be innocent of crime exists in her heart at that point.
The simple but eloquent 'Be White' line in Sympathy For Lady Vengeance is also said here, but in a much longer style. In the trailer below you will hear Soon-yi talking with her daughter at the table and telling her to live with a "Clean heart, body and soul" to which her daughter replies that she will "be clean." What triggered the connection for me was one small visual. You will see in the trailer a clip where Soon-yi is marching down the street wearing a spotted scarf. I thought to myself, "She looks like Geum-ja with the polka-dot dress" before realizing that there would be several other connections in the film.
Meaningful connections or not, watch Soon-yi as she lashes out against Chang-soo and his friends in the trailer for Report of the Daughter-in-Law's Rice Flower... (sigh – there is just no way to make that title sound good..)
Click here to view the trailer of Report of the Daughter-in-Law's Rice Flower
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