Oldboy (2003) movie poster

(2003) dir. Chan-wook Park
viewed: 01/20/06

I’d been reading about this film, which hit local theaters last year, and it sounded interesting. A man is picked up off the street and then imprisoned in a room, like a hotel room, for 15 years without human contact. Already a bit of a kook, he becomes more and more bizarre and dishevelled, hypnotized and drugged throughout the duration. And then he is released. And upon release he seeks revenge on his captors and understanding for what he had been put through.

The style of the film and Chan-wook Park’s direction and writing are inventive and surprising. The tone, the pacing to framing to the dialogue, was strikingly original. Min-sik Choi is excellent as the bizarre Dae-su Oh, playing crazy but sane, yet developing a character with whom one is truly engaged.

There are vivid moments throughout the film. None more so that when he eats live octopus. I am sure that animal rights activists would not be happy, but it makes such a insane moment, with Dae-su Oh’s dead eyes while the Octopus’ legs writhe on his face. It’s like Bunuel or something. I lack the words to convey it.

The narrative veers off as it seeks resolution. Some of the surprising plot twists don’t seem as satisfying as they should be, but the film manages to come to a strong conclusion, with more memorable, striking scenes and performances.

I was really pretty wow’ed by this film, to be honest. I think it’s probably the most interesting new film that I have seen in a long time. I know that Park has two other films in what is referred to as his “Vengence” trilogy. I am positive that I will seek them out.

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