It tells the story of a priest who is in love with his friend’s wife turning into a vampire through a failed medical experiment.
Park has stated, “this film was originally called The Bat to convey a sense of horror.”
We are introduced to Sang-hyun, a priest whose free time is spent volunteering at the local hospital and providing ministry to the patients.
He is well respected for his unwavering faith and the dedicated service he provides to all those around him, but he secretly suffers from overwhelming feelings of doubt and sadness about living in a world that seems to be drowning in suffering and death.
After getting fed up with the endless cycle of human suffering that the world offers, Sang-hyun volunteers to participate in an experiment to find a vaccine for the deadly F.I.V. virus with the hope of saving even one life, and heads off to Africa.
Although the experiment fails disastrously and Sang-hyun is infected with a seemingly fatal disease, he makes a complete and rapid recovery.
News of his marvelous recovery is quickly spread to the devout parishioners of Sang-hyun’s congregation, and they begin to believe that the man has a miraculous gift for healing.
Soon, thousands more people flock to Sang-hyun’s services.
Among the new churchgoers are Kang-woo, Sang-hyun’s childhood friend, and his family.
Later on, Kang-woo invites his old friend to join the weekly mahjong night at his house, and there Sang-hyun finds himself precariously drawn to Kang-woo’s wife, Tae-ju.
Suddenly Sang-hyun relapses into his illness; he coughs up blood and passes away.
The next day however, he opens his eyes in dire need of shelter from the sweltering sunlight; he has become a vampire.
At first Sang-hyun feels a newfound vigor and is energized by his insistent bodily desires, but soon he is aghast to find himself sucking down blood from a comatose patient in the hospital.
After attempting to kill himself, he finds that he is drawn back to the taste of human blood against his will.
To make matters worse, the symptoms of F.I.V. have come roaring back.
Desperately trying to avoid committing a murder, he resorts to stealing blood transfusion packs from the hospital.
Tae-ju, now living with her ill husband and her over-protective mother-in-law, leads a dreary and unhappy life.
She finds herself drawn to Sang-hyun and his odd new physicality, and his inability to resist his desires.
The two begin an affair, but when Tae-ju first discovers the truth about Sang-hyun’s new lifestyle, she retreats in fear.
When Sang-hyun pleads with her to run away with him she turns him down, suggesting that they kill her husband instead.
About Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook (born August 23, 1963 in the Tanyan area of Jecheon) is a South Korean filmmaker and screenwriter.
One of the most acclaimed and popular filmmakers in his native country, Park is internationally renowned for what has become known as The Vengeance Trilogy, consisting of 2002’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy in 2003 and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance in 2005.
His films are noted for their immaculate framing and brutal subject matter.
In a May 2004 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, when asked who influences him, Park’s response was: Sophocles, Shakespeare, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Balzac, Kurt Vonnegut and others.
In an interview for Lady Vengeance, Park listed: Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Aldrich, Ingmar Bergman, Sam Fuller, Roman Polanski and the Korean director, Kim Ki-young, as cinematic influences.
His debut feature film was The Moon Is... the Sun’s Dream (1992), and after five years, he made his second film Trio, but the response to these two films was quite cold.
Before Joint Security Area, Park was more famous as a film critic than as a filmmaker.
In 2000, Park directed Joint Security Area, which was a great success both commercially and critically, even surpassing Kang Je-gyu’s Shiri as the most-watched film ever made in South Korea.
This success made it possible for him to make his next film more independently - Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the result of this creative freedom.
After winning the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for the film Oldboy, a journalist asked, “in your film, why is the vengeance repeating?”.
According to Park, he decided to make three consecutive films with revenge as the central theme.
Park said his films are about the utter futility of vengeance and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved.
The Vengeance Trilogy DVD boxsetHis so-called Vengeance Trilogy consists of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, shortened to Lady Vengeance, was distributed by Tartan Films for American theatrical release in April 2006.