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'Lady Vengeance' (****)

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Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2006 10:00 pm

At a time when news headlines describe horrors that most people can barely fathom, movies have, for the most part, lost their ability to truly shock. These days truth is stranger and more disturbing than any fiction, so most filmmakers who even make an attempt to shock viewers come across as self-conscious, and their work seems far too labored to have any real effect (see: Takashi Miike, Michael Haneke, or any number of pretentious European directors).

One exception is Park Chan-wook, who wraps up his challenging revenge trilogy with "Lady Vengeance," which follows "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and "Oldboy." It has turned out to be an uneven trilogy, due to the pointlessness of the nihilistic first installment. But if nothing else these movies have shown that with the right filmmaker at the helm, once in a while movies can continue to surprise us, thrill us, and leave us genuinely shocked without resorting to cheap theatrics.

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