Monday, October 13, 2014

Oldboy



2003  ****1/2

Our story opens with a montage of Korean businessman Oh Dae-su being various stages of drunken asshole while he waits in a police station.  A friend picks him up and they call Dae-su's family from a payphone, but when the friend goes to put Dae-su back on the phone, he's gone.

Without one word of explanation, Dae-su spends the next fifteen years imprisoned in a reasonably comfortable room with a TV.  Periodically the room is gassed so it can be cleaned and he can be groomed.  One year into his stay he sees on the news that his wife has been killed and that he is the prime suspect.  He begins to train himself as a machine of revenge, and plans his escape...

And then one day he wakes up inside a trunk, and when he opens it he's outside.  Free.  With a few clues provided him, this radically changed man sets out on a quest for answers.

Oldboy is a raw scraping at the dark recesses of the human soul, dressed in the brutal, sappy, weird, funny trappings that are contemporary Korean film noir.  Or so is my uninformed take on a foreign genre I don't know that much about.

Nothing I can say will convey the flavor as much as the clip below, in which Dae-su takes on a hallway of henchmen.  Give yourself three minutes and check it out, somewhere you can hear the drunken, sad-jazzy music.


The clip is biddy-safe, but there's a couple of scenes in the movie entire that definitely cross the line.  Nevertheless, Oldboy is fantastic in its style, its narrative twists and turns, and in its underlying evil.  There is so much more in it then you've read here, and I highly recommend it.  I only dinged it the full five stars because it's not exactly my brand of exotic cheese.

8 comments:

Catfreeek said...

I'm so glad you finally watched this, great review. I'm somewhat curious about the American remake but have not crossed the bridge yet.

JPX said...

JSP has been telling me to see this for years!Now that you have given it your thumbs up I will - just kidding, JSP. I do want to check it out. Is the ending satisfying?

Landshark said...

I've been meaning to rewatch this one. I remember really liking it back when it first came out. I think it was part of a trilogy or something, but I never saw any of the others.

AC said...

Sounds excellent but maybe more for Mr. AC.

DCD said...

I remember seeing previous reviews and thinking about giving it a try. Great review!

Octopunk said...

I'd say the ending is satisfying but not what you'd expect.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Awesome review of a movie I cherish! I have been hesitant to watch the Spike Lee remake out of fear that it'll be so bad that it'll ruin the original, but I am curious. The clip you posted doesn't do the film justice.

Abduscias said...

One of the best!