Oldboy

2 Aug

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Oh Dae-Su (Min-sik Choi) is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years. He is given no explanation as to why, which understandably gets him a little bit riled. When he is finally released, he is given a short timescale to find his captor and work out why he was kept locked up for so long.

Once released and on the trail for answers, Dae-Su meets and falls for a woman, Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang). Their love story intertwines brilliantly with Dae-Su’s quest for vengeance until the whole thing reaches a stunning climax.

There is so much to love about Oldboy that I could never hope to cover it all here. There is some watch-through-your-fingers violence that even with repeated viewings, never loses its shock value. Not that Oldboy trades on shock alone. Sure, some of the scenes are difficult (or rather, impossible) to sit through without grimacing and squirming in your seat, but they all feed into the story and never feel like gimmicks to cause controversy. That said, there is one scene involving a Squid that I detest, but even so I must concede that it is incredibly compelling. It helps get us into the mind of Dae-Su, and his is a mind worth exploring.

The movie features arguably the finest fight scene ever committed to film. Facing an impossible task in a corridor filled with a seemingly insurmountable number of foes, Dae-Su sets about trying to work his through them. The scene is filmed side on, so that as he makes his way down the corridor, the camera follows him. Described by one reviewer as a Bayeux Tapestry of a scene, I can’t really put any better than that. The most phenomenal thing about is that the scene is all shot in one take, it’s a remarkable feat of filmmaking, bringing together great acting, fantastic choreography and incredibly skilled direction from Chan-wook Park.

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Min-sik Choi is thoroughly impressive in the now-iconic lead role, playing an increasingly deranged man to perfection. His final scenes are unbelievably good; he displays absolute acting perfection that has blown my mind on each occasion I’ve watched this film. He is instrumental in bringing the movie to a seismic crescendo, with one of the most breathtaking conclusions to a story you’re ever likely to see. Also putting in fine performances are Hye-jeong Kang and Woo-jin Lee.

Chan-wook Park’s direction is absolutely immaculate. There is never a single shot that looks wrong or in anyway out of place, and he finds some extraordinary angles with his camera. There is once scene that springs to kind that exemplifies this; as Dae-Su sits in a car, the camera looks outward. Through the slightest gap between the open door and the roof of the car, we see a pair of lips, through which one characters utters a sentence that really hits home the fact that Dae-Su has nowhere to hide. That is only one example of the intricate direction here though, there is far to pick at analyse and fall in love with.

For so many reasons, Oldboy is a film that you need to see. It is just incredible filmmaking and I think I can safely say it ranks as the finest vengeance story I’ve ever seen. How far can somebody go to get revenge? Or rather, how far can they be pushed? Taken at face value, it’s wonderful, if not particularly pleasant entertainment. Look a little deeper and it’s unflinching commentary on very human psychological conditions. I’d strongly recommend giving this a viewing before you see the American remake later this year. Put simply, it’s perfect.

10/10

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2 Responses to “Oldboy”

  1. The Vern August 6, 2013 at 11:32 #

    Great review. You made me want to watch this again, but not on Netflix because it is the dubbed version. I agree with you that it is indeed shocking but doesnt rely just on shock value

    • I Liked That Film August 6, 2013 at 20:05 #

      Yeah I wouldn’t have any interest in the dubbed version either. The great thing is it it’s a film that improves on repeated viewings. It’s incredible

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