OLDBOY (a vintage review!)

This subtitled Korean revenge thriller received critical acclaim from domestic and international audiences. The plaudits are certainly valid as it is an intelligent mix of succinct violence, classic revenge, and well written black comedy, which appeals to most viewers.

Choi Min Sik stars as kidnap victim Dae-su, who has been imprisoned for 15 years for a reason both we and his character are unaware of. Upon his escape, he swears revenge on his captors. It is hard to discuss the production without giving away some of the key plot points that make the twist riddled film so enjoyable to watch. As he embarks on his quest to discover the man responsible for his imprisonment, we are almost as dazed as he is. Within a short time our hero manages to team with a female chef played by Gang Hye-jung. He’s dehumanization is perfectly highlighted in the scene where he devours a life octopus, to the dismay, and transfixion of those around him. (And I am reliably informed this was not CGI!)

The film was garnished with the prestigious Grand Jury prize at Cannes, perhaps its violence, and tongue in cheek humour impressed the chief judge. (MR Q Tarantino). Old Boy treats the audience roughly, but never forgets the language of film.

There are so many stand out scenes that to pick a favourite would not do any justice to the review. It could be when old Boy takes on 20 jobs single handedly, all with a nod to the computer games of the 80’s. If you thought dentistry is a complex science this film takes it back to the dark ages, with a scene that would make the Laurence Olivier/Dustin Hoffman problem seem tame.

This is a well written and hugely entertaining film, now available on DVD with a plethora of extras that are too numerous to mention. It is so much more than violent, difficult to explain, but so interesting and original.


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