Chan-wook Park's Oldboy was one of the better films I've seen in recent years. Part two of his revenge trilogy (after the somewhat disappointing Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) was a stylistic nightmare filled with visual splendor, engaging plot twists and turns, and a singularly sick sense of humor.
His final chapter in the revenge trilogy, Lady Vengeance, falls somewhere in between the previous two. While it isn't as confusing and reckless as the first chapter, it isn't nearly as engaging or solid as Oldboy. In fact, the film doesn't really take flight until its second half after a somewhat meandering first. (I disagree with James DiGiovanna here.) When it does hit its stride, it's further proof that Park is one of the more innovative directors out there.
A young woman (Yeong-ae Lee) is imprisoned for years after being blackmailed into a criminal act. Upon her release, she sets out to get revenge on a child killer and reunite with her long-lost daughter. Lee delivers a great performance, and Park often has her stare straight into the screen.
There's a lot of strange women's prison footage in the first hour, and the plot is often confusing. Things come together when the woman shoots her first bad guy in the head. The film's finale is a unique twist on getting revenge, and I won't reveal what happens. Let's just say the final sequence makes The Bride of Kill Bill look like the forgiving sort.
One thing about Park is that you are certain to witness visuals unlike anything you've seen before, or will see again. There's one sequence where Lee is pulling a sled containing a dog with a human head, a head she eventually puts a bullet through. Min-sik Choi, so good in Oldboy, works for Park again as Mr. Baek, a very pivotal part in this story.
Park is apparently readying some sort of vampire story. That should be pretty interesting.
Special Features: Plenty of commentaries (three in total) and interviews for those who want to dig deeper. There's also a making-of documentary. Tartan continues to package their films well.
In re-watching this pseudo-classic, I noticed one thing that made the original more enjoyable than the current Jackass Number Two: lots of laughter. The crew seemed to be having a lot more fun making this one, which makes sense, since their bodies probably ached a bit more by the second film. Johnny Knoxville seemed to laugh more as the pain of his gags increased.
The gags also seemed a little more creative in this picture. There's great stuff with alligators, including Steve-O putting meat in a jockstrap and trying to tightrope across a gator pond, and Knoxville allowing a baby gator to bite his nipple. The opening gag, with the cast beating the shit out of each other while riding in an oversized shopping cart, is violent bliss.
This film was supposed to be the Jackass finale for Knoxville, but a bad run by his films at the box office made the sequel necessary.
Special Features: Plenty of additional footage, including Knoxville returning a "pocket ass" that he claims cut the shaft of his penis (he splotches fake blood all over it). The clerk actually completes an exchange for a new ass. There's also extended footage of Steve-O trashing his ceiling fan, and some decent Party Boy footage. (He pisses off a Japanese dance troupe.) Steve-O tries to pole-vault a poo pond, and comes into pretty close contact with a dead cat. He also pukes his guts out. (Why do these guys eat on days when they know they'll be doing this vile stuff? I know, stupid question.) There's also a hellish moment where Steve-O allows what looks like a nurse shark to bite his arm. The man is certifiably nuts. You can also see more footage of Bam's dad coming home to an alligator in his house, and major butt abuse (some of the guys get caned). Two commentaries (including one with the cast), Too Hot for MTV footage and a making-of commentary round out the features.
The brief first season of this show was funny enough, but things really took flight in Season Two. It's criminal that Steve Carell didn't win an Emmy for his work, although the show did win Best Comedy Series.
Things start with what stands as my favorite episode, "The Dundies," where Carell's Michael makes an ass of himself emceeing an interoffice awards show. Another highlight is "Booze Cruise," where Michael treats the staff to a motivational cruise that inspires malaise.
The ensemble cast is terrific, including Jenna Fischer as the moody receptionist, and Rainn Wilson as Dwight. The mockumentary approach is a consistent winner, and Carell shines in it.
Special Features: Nothing to get crazy about: some deleted scenes that are sporadically funny, rather boring commentary and webisodes from NBC.com. Yes, there's a blooper reel.