MOVIE REVIEW: OLDBOY 2003
I love Asian cinema. The Asians are not afraid to experiment with dark, gory subject matter. That is exactly why Hollyweird is very careful about which Asian films they will choose to butcher..um..remake. The Ring and The Grudge were two such films that are remakes of very popular Asian films (Ringu and Ju-On respectively). Oldboy is one of those films I really don't expect to see a remake of any time soon. At one time there was talk of remake but I think it's been shelved(hooray).
Oldboy is the story of Dae-su, a married father who spends the majority of his time getting drunk and chasing women. On his daughter's birthday he is mysteriously kidnapped from a phone booth by a man with a purple umbrella (no,it ain't Farnsworth Bentley) and locked away in a dingy cell/hotel room with only a bed, a pipe that emits gases that put him to sleep, and a TV to connect him to the outside world. This imprisonment lasts 15 years. While imprisoned, he learns of his wife and daughter's murder via television. He keeps a diary of all his past sins, he vows to seek revenge and fine-tunes his body to become a killing machine.
Upon his release he is approached by several people who give him clothing , a cell phone and clues about his kidnappers and tell him that he has five days to find out who was responsible for all the madness. In a restaurant, A very hungry Dae-su (so hungry he eats a LIVE squid, gross) meets pretty chef Mi-do. He and Mi-do share a mutual attraction instantly and he informs her of what has happened to him in the last 15 years. They embark on a quest to discover exactly why and who would want to cause Dae-Su so much pain and suffering. During their mission they find Dae-Su's childhood buddy who also helps in the quest. On his journey to find the truth Dae-Su fights many battles. When I say prison has turned this man into an animal I mean it. He gouges out eyes and intestines with his bare hands. The scene where a hammer is used as a weapon is priceless, this guy is no joke. Of course, he and Mido fall in love and he will stop at nothing to protect her. Once the kidnapper is revealed that's where the story really unfolds. The kidnapper is a charismatic character named Woo Jin-Lee. He is rich, handsome, and is determined to make Dae-su remember why he would want to harm him. In the interim, Dae-su's childhood buddy is murdered and Mi-do is kidnapped. Dae-su tracks down Woo Jin-Lee and the evil ass bastard starts to remind Dae-su of their past connection. It turns out that they were school mates, hence the name of the movie Oldboys...a reference to what I'm guessing Asian people refer to as schoolmates. Dae-su caught Woo Jin-Lee in a very compromising position with someone who should have been totally off limits on the school campus. Dae-su in turn told his best friend, the one who was murdered earlier in the story, and the best friend told everyone he knew. This act caused the female counterpart in the compromising position to do the unthinkable and Woo Jin-Lee never forgave Dae-su for telling their secret. Woo Jin-Lee has spent his entire life grieving and plotting his revenge against Dae-su for a childhood rumor, one that was absolutely true in the first place. As Dae-su is on his knees pleading for the safe return of Mi-do, the cruel, callous Woo Jin-Lee laughs in his face. He then begins to tell him the truth about Mi-do and this my friends is where The Eccentric Diva cried a bucket of tears. The performance by Dae-su made me want to get on my knees and beg for mercy with this man. Dae-su then commits one more brutal act as his way of "apologizing" for his "sins". No spoilers from me y'all(I did give you a little), the rest you'll have to see for yourself.
The performances in this movie are stellar. The man who played Dae-su should have won some sort of award for his performance. The evil Woo Jin-Lee makes David Koresh look like Santa Claus. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. This movie is not for the squeamish. Under the dark cloud of the subject matter, there is some underlying humor to it. It contains brutality, gore and incest, but little or no nudity. It is also subtitled, which a lot of people have trouble following.
VERDICT: 4 Soul Claps
Labels: Movie Reviews