Movie Review: “Oldboy”

–   Oldboy is a South Korean mystery thrilled film directed by Park Chan-wook. The film is loosely based on the Japanese manga of the same name that was written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya.

   It is acknowledged as being the second installment in the Vengeance Trilogy, preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Albeit, they are not linked in any distinguishable and are actually standalone films.

   Park Chan-wook is one of the most widely respected South Korean directors in the world. Other-wise known for films like Stoker, Thirst, Joint Security Area, and of course, the Vengeance films that were already mentioned.

   The film stars Choi Min-sik, Kang Hye-jung, and Yoo Ji-tae. If this wasn’t one of the first South Korean films that I ever watched. It’d definitely be on my radar. The director has a lot of good work, and Choi Min-sik has definitely become one of my favorite actor over the years. In-fact, I recently did a review of a film starring him called I Saw the Devil.

   Oldboy received wide-acclaim from critics, and is often credited as being one of the best South Korean films of all-time.

   The movie follows the story of a character named Oh Dae-su, who is locked into a hotel room for fifteen years. Why? That is the bigger question about the film. Even more than that, it’s not about why he was imprisoned, but why he was set free. (The tagline for the remake said something like that.) The answer is unbeknownst to him. He doesn’t escape, but his released, but Dae-su finds himself still being pursued by the man who locked him away. In his pursuit for vengeance, the character always becomes tied to a romance with a young sushi chef.

   The main-protagonist is portrayed particularly well by Choi Min-sik. He has an unrelenting way about him that can’t be denied. A lot of that is in part to the bizarre storytelling done in the film. He behaves how you’d expect somebody to behave in the situation. The character feels disconnected from normal human-behaviors, and comes off harrowing in-terms of realism. He’s a character that feels like a bad-ass with you look at things in-retrospect, but really, that isn’t how he is portrayed in the film.

   I think the group fight-scene definitely shows that. The end result is impressive, but it looks different when it happens.

   Revenge is a double-edged sword. This is the moral message that the movie claims to teach, but for all its merits and for everything that is right, that is the last thing that I thought when it was all said and done. The only thing I felt was, “Don’t go outside. People are crazy.”

   I think I like that better.

   The antagonist also does well. His performance isn’t what I walked out of the film remembering, but it was worthwhile. More importantly, the ‘moment’ happened in this film. He played it like a champ. That was the aspect of the film that really needed to work, and he hit it out of the park.

   There is a lot of sadistic imagery in this film, and while, it isn’t for some, it definitely works for others. The cinematography and directing is superb along with the pacing, proving why the director deserves all the acclaim that he has been given. Like both the other movies that I have looked in Foreign Film Month so far, this one feels like you know there is something hiding beneath the surface. However, beyond that, Oldboy has a very enjoyable story with well-acted characters and strong directing.

   In conclusion, I always try to look at things from all different angles when I write a review. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with it, I point out that there might be a certain problem here or there. I try not to force it though, and Oldboy is one of those rare movies that I can’t think of anything bad to say about it. I really liked this one. 

   Thanks for reading…

Rating: – Good

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