starring Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Moon So-ri
screenplay by Chung Seo-Kyung, Park Chan-wook, based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
directed by Park Chan-wook
by Walter Chaw I love Stoker, Korean master Park Chan-wook's updating of Shadow of a Doubt that centres on "young Charlie's" sexual awakening and all the perverse tensions attending that moment in a brittle upper-middle-class Nashville. Married to the swooning, hypnotic camerawork that has been the hallmark of Park's collaboration with DP Chung Chung since Oldboy, it has about it the perversity of a Victorian chamber drama squeezed through the filter of a very Korean take on class and sex--attitudes partly shaped by living in the shadow of one of the two or three most unstable regimes in the world. Stoker is a haunted-house movie without ghosts; a vampire movie without vampires. Its hero is a young woman who dons the raiment of the patriarchy at the end, lets blood on a field of flowers (one of a series of literal and metaphorical deflowerings), and stalks into the world fully-formed and dangerous. Park is best known for his "Vengeance Trilogy," of course, but it's the last film of that cycle, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, that finds itself faced with the kind of moral dilemma that has marked Park's work since. It's arguable that before it, Park was an exploitation filmmaker. A conversant, brilliant exploitation filmmaker, but an exploitation filmmaker just the same. Lady Vengeance, however, deals with the ethics of violence and the toll of retribution on the avengers. It's smart as hell, beautiful to look at, nigh unwatchable. I mean that as praise, for it should be.