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Oldboy March 12, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Film.

Winner of the Grand Prix at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Oldboy is every bit as fucked-up as you’ve heard – but also a little brilliant. In that respect, it reminds me a little of Noe’s Irreversible but falls short of it in style and believability.

In short, the movie follows Dae-su Oh, an ordinary man who is kidnapped, held prisoner for 15 years and then told to find and kill his tormentor otherwise every woman he ever loved will be killed (in case he needed further motivation). So far so fucked-up-Oriental-movie. It’s a classy piece of work and Park Chan-wook even puts classical music over the violence, just in case you thought this was sick exploitation instead of art. Make no mistake, many scenes are sick – but the brutal violence pales in comparisson to the intriguing plot. The final revelations will have your hand stuck over mouth for some time.

For much of the movie you’re admiring the kinetic camera-work (very WKW), the classily constructed shots and puzzling over the unimaginable plot. But as Park slowly peels back each layer the acting seems increasingly brilliant. Sci-fi, fantasy and horror actors have to put up with a lot, but Min-sik Choi portrays this bizarre situation with painful conviction – and that is incredible.

I can see why Tarantino likes this so much. It’s a bit strong, but I’m drawn to the remarkable ingenuity (and strangeness) of the plot. Like Irreversible, there’s no denying this is powerful, brilliantly original and gorgeously made . But I’m not sure if I could sit through it again.


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