Oldboy (2003) - review
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Posted 22 February 2013 - 05:51 AM
Oldboy is stylish revenge thriller, in which Oh Dae-su, played by Choi Min-sik, is mysteriously kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years before being equally mysteriously released with the mission to find out who imprisoned him, and more importantly, why. The tension between Oh Dae-su’s thirst for revenge and his dependence on his tormentor for the reason for his captivity makes this a cut above your standard revenge movie plot; although there is vengeance of unflinching brutality, it is the unwrapping of the puzzle surrounding Dae-su’s kidnap which drives the plot.
The violence and sheer horror of some of the events in the film would be difficult to stomach were they not perfectly counterbalanced by the equally extraordinary beauty in the colours, music and visual inventiveness. Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s style is a masterclass in how to handle ultraviolence with restraint and class (take note, Mr. Tarantino). The most disturbing parts of the film are not the most violent or showy, but the quiet scenes, such as the flashback to what happened at the school between Woo-jin and Soo-ah.
Without giving too much away, I also liked the shadowing within the film – Dae-Su taking revenge on Woo-Jin, while Woo-jin takes revenge on him; Dae-Su’s arrest at the very beginning foreshadowing his subsequent kidnap and imprisonment.
This film has been unfairly criticised by some for being contrived and unrealistic which is quite unfair, as Oldboy doesn’t inhabit the real world, it inhabits a hyper-real film world where everything is intensified – including colour, sound, and the abilities of both the protagonist and antagonist.