Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: "Oldboy" is an Incredible Movie from South Korea

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 214 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Oldboy (2003)
Running time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – R for strong violence including scenes of torture, sexuality, and pervasive language
DIRECTOR: Chan-wook Park
WRITERS: Chan-wook Park, Jo-yun Hwang, Chun-hyeong Lim, and Joon-hyung Lim; from a story by Garon Tsuchiya (based upon the comic book by Nobuaki Minegishi)
PRODUCER: Seung-yong Lim
EDITOR: Sang-Beom Kim

MYSTERY/DRAMA/THRILLER with elements of action

Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji, Dal-su Oh, Byeong-ok Kim, Seung-Shin Lee, and Jin-seo Yun

Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) was imprisoned, drugged, and tortured for 15 years, before his captor(s) mysteriously released him. Dae-su has no idea how or why it happened, and he doesn’t know whom he should hold accountable for his suffering. Seeking revenge on his captor(s), Dae-su gets help from a kindly waitress, Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang), and an old friend, No Joo-hwan (Dae-han Ji). Dae-su also comes upon a valuable clue when a suave young businessman, Lee Woo-jin (Ji-tae Yu), starts butting into Dae-su’s life. Who is Woo-jin? Did he play a part in Dae-su’s imprisonment? And how does Dae-su’s past tie into everything? Dae-su only has five days to discover all the answers.

Showing the influence of both Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, director Chan-wook Park created in his film, Oldboy, a story of revenge that is Shakespearean in its scope and has the flavor of pure, L.A. hardboiled noir, even though the story takes place in South Korea. Although the performances are excellent, in particularly the trio of Min-ski Choi, Hye-jeong Kang, and Ja-tae Yu who are all superb, Oldboy is an exercise in plot over character. Slick and brutally violent, it recalls Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets with a splash of the Wachowski’s Brothers and Quentin Tarantino pulp crime work.

Park welcomes the viewer to engage his own mind in untangling this labyrinth of an insane and monumentally petty revenge. In that, Oldboy is the ultimate revenge flick, proving that more often than we’d like to believe, the object of a revenge plot really doesn’t know why his tormentor hates him. The victim may not even remember his alleged offense. Movie lovers with nimble minds and appetites for cinematic brilliance will like this complex and brutal mystery. Once again, a filmmaker from the Far East shows us that eye candy need not be just entertainment filler. It can also be a work of movie art.

9 of 10

Tuesday, October 17, 2006



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