I hope that you will overcome language differences and see this South Korean movie, because it’s a fucking master piece. First of all, do not watch the version with the English dub because you simply need to hear how this movie sounds originally. Everything simply fits together and if you change one thing, you will not get that wow feeling. Based on the Japanese manga of the same name written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya, Oldboy is a neo-noir revenge movie. This combination makes me really hard. It is actually a second installment in Chan-wook Park’s The Vengence Trilogy, with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance released one year earlier and Lady Vengeance concluding the trilogy in 2005. I highly recommend that you check out all three movies, if for nothing else, then for a refreshing break from Hollywood produced movies. Park only enhanced the popular manga comic, taking all the elements and making them even more potent. This is a movie that’s not afraid to dig deep searching for answers.
Oh Dae-su is having a really bad day that’s about to get even worse. After he got really drunk, he was arrested and placed in a cell, missing his daughter’s birthday. She’s four and Dae-su is really broken by this turn of events, but has no idea what’s about to happen. His friend, Joo-hwan, gets him out of jail and he immediately tries to call home but is kidnapped while he was still in the phone booth. He wakes up in a strange hotel room without windows, locked and alone. What’s even more frightening, he cannot figure out why would someone kidnap and hold him there…
This is all you need to know in order to watch this masterpiece. I will leave most of the details out, because they are just too damn good to be spoiled. There are so many things that we can talk about that this is totally insignificant. The story is fucking brilliant and provides us with a lot of concepts that we can explore. For example, by reducing the number of things he can interact with, we can watch how a man’s psyche slowly starts to deteriorate and how important it is to keep it together (remember, keep it together, keep it together, keep it together, KIT). It also features so many intense emotions and situations that the whole pacing thing just goes out of the window. You somehow become Oh Dae-su, trapped in this reality we or he are or is living in, struggling to keep it together but still determined to get to the bottom of the whole thing. It’s almost therapeutic. I already talked about Hollywood produced movies, where the studios are looking to stifle creativity and are always looking at the financial aspect of movie making, with final products being exactly that, products. Here, you will be able to see that unbridled passion and vision, coming to us from a lot of talented people who are making movies that are truly great.
Director: Chan-wook Park
Cast: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji
Fun Stuff: Four live octopodes were eaten for the scene with Dae-su in the sushi bar, a scene which provoked some controversy abroad. Eating live octopus in Korea is commonplace although it is usually sliced first. When the film won the Grand Prix at Cannes, the director thanked the octopodes along with the cast and crew.