on 1 March 2006
Let's get the details out of the way, before I sing my praises. Oh Dae-Su finds himself kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel-esque room for 15 years. He teaches himself to fight (by beating the hell out of a brick wall!), and slowly begins to go crazy. He's then hypnotized, and wakes up on the roof of a building. He has a limited amount of time to find the people who imprisoned him, find out why they did it, and then exact revenge.
OKAY, now you've got the gist of the plot, allow me to rant and rave about how amazing this film is. The plot (taken from the manga of the same name) is out of this world. It's amazing that Hollywood didn't snap it up sooner (though unfortunately, Hollywood are planning to butcher it with a remake). It's twists and mind boggelers galore. Guaranteed to disturb and disgust you in parts, and leave you touched in others. Everything is brought together with strong characters, amazing music, a top-notch storyline, and most importantly, great acting. Every person feels like they were born to play their role.
I can't stress enough how much you need to watch this film. Pretentious critics like to sling mud at Oldboy, but none of it sticks. Despite over-hype and the occasional "well it wasn't THAT amazing" review, this film stands its own against any other film out there. I would go as far as to say it's my favourite film of all time. It's epic in a subtle way, and if you're not left mesmerized (albeit due to some confusion) by it, watch it again. I didn't notice the beauty of it all until its second viewing. A must see for any fan of intelligent films.
on 25 October 2006
This is probably one of the greatest revenge movies ever made, but be warned -- this film is NOT for the weak-minded, the faint-hearted nor the easily offended. But it's way better than all the dreck Hollywood keep making over the recent years.
One night, a man gets mysteriously captured and imprisoned in a cell where he goes under toture and madness. 15 years later, he is released back into his home country, where he's determined to find his captors & get his revenge...but he only has 5 days.
There are scenes in OLDBOY (2003), that will stay with you - the infamous live-octopus scene, the fighout in the corridor and the shocking plot twist which is revealed during the memorable climax. By the time the film ended, I was speechless.
Kudos to everyone who made this excellent movie. 5 out of 5.
on 23 November 2004
This in my opinion is easily the best film ever to be created. If you like to get dazed by the twists and turns of the plot, then this is the film for you.
This film is a basically a build up towards the later upcoming biggest twist ever to be put up on cinema screen. (the 'box' bit) To be honest, i couldnt quite understand the film until this part...It had answered all my questions i had during the film.
Dont buy this film if you just expect mindless gore. The violence in this film is actually appropiate and essential to the character building. (its not as gory as people say anyway)
Oldboy is simply an artwork... i never seen a film so orignal and cool. No wonder the world labelled it as one of the best films made ever.
I recommend that you watch it first time with all of your concentration. There may be few things that you didnt quite understand... but watch it again, and then its all solved and you will get to appreciate the effort and intelligence spent on the making of the film.
on 21 March 2006
I rented this film on the strength of the reviews on this website and boy, was I not disappointed. It is a tour de force in film making. I am not going to rant on about it, just watch it now. It is gruesome, chilling, funny and the ending is disturbing. Watch it before the rumoured watered down Hollywood version comes out.
One of the best films I have seen and it has rekindled my interest in Asian films.
on 17 August 2006
Old Boy is possibly the best film I have watched this year. How I haven't seen it until now is an embarrassing wonder?!
Not to give away the plot, this film is a revenge fueled darkly comic, at times harrowing, violent, sad, emotional blitz on the senses.
Choi-Min-Sik is fabulous as the smiling Oh Des-Ou. A character only he (with hindsight of course) could have pulled off so magnificently.
The film offers painfully emotional scenes, set back to back with hilarious (and usually violent) action sequences. The guy with his little fluffy dog exiting the world in the way he does made not only the main character smile, but me also !
Its certainly a "revenge" film, but the way the plot reveals itself keeps you guessing who's revenge it actually is that you're watching right to the end.
An amazing film, with tons of style, and just as much depth, As has been said already fans of Tarantino and Scott, as well as Takeshi Kitano should love it. And if I haven't sold you on the above, then all I can say is if the sound of a hero having a brawl with 15 hoods, and only using his fists and a claw hammer, all stylishly filmed in just about 1 take, sounds like your kind of thing, then this film is also for you !!!!
Old Boy is a startling Korean film that caused quite a stir when it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. After a drunken night of michief making, a man wakes up imprisoned in a room with no idea why or who is holding him. He is released 15 years later to discover he is the prime suspect in his wifes murder. He is given a mobile phone and a wallet full of cash and begins the task of tracking down his captors to solve the riddle of his incarceration.
The film is visually breathtaking with wonderfully shot scenes. The scene which stands out the most is a 2 minute continuous shot of Oh Dae-Su taking on dozens of thugs in a cramped corridor armed with nothing but his fists and a claw hammer. Its so stylish that you can understand why Tarantino named it as one of his favourite films.
It can be a little confusing but give it a chance and treat yourself to one of the finest pieces of Asian cinema in 2003.
on 27 July 2005
As a rule, don't mistake this film for one of two things:
1) A film in the Tarantino vein.
Just because mention of it's name is often preceded by the phrase 'Tarantino recommended' don't mistake it for his brand of swaggering cool (so cool it often can't stand up straight, in fact), stolen from multiple sources, with little other than superficial flash over substance and one-liners that are sure to be repeated for ten years afterwards - even if they weren't very interesting when you first heard them.
Sadistic violence isn't thrown at the characters to mitigate their also violent responses. Here for every act there is a reason. Often one thought out years in advance.
If this film stands up to the likeness of any American director I'd make it David Fincher - particularly as the neon flourished, smack patina of this film has more in common with that of Fight Club - and it shares not only some of Fincher's intelligent nihilism but also his ability to render a scene disturbing more by what is not shown/implied than what is.
2. A typical 'Asia Extreme' title.
For something as purportedly violent as this there are very few on-screen scenes of violence that could be considered gratuitous or nasty for nasty's sake - and I make that judgement relative to generally any mainstream Hollywood action movie out there. Any violence depicted is thus telling you either about the characters or the characters' state of mind. This is no Ringu or Ju-On or some such ghost/horror/paranormal cautionary. This time you'll be spared the narrative giving you yet another reason to reconsider your view on cute Japanese schoolgirls.
For a start, it's not Japanese, it's South Korean. Second, it's a tale about vengeance that doesn't stimp on the consequences of vegeance for both the revenger and the revengee - which becomes typically complicated when the parties are both. There are no gangsters, no especial depiction of a criminal underworld, and no crazed psychos weilding either chainsaws or katanas to theatrical effect. All of which I am thankful for, as to me, they are as cliched and overused as hell.
What you do get is a simple question to ponder as the film opens. One man, a pretty much everyman, and in some ways an ass of a everyman, is inexplicably kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years. He is then released and given 5 days to find the perpetrator and the reason for his imprisonment.
Now if this were a Hollywood movie I would indeed be looking in the opposite direction because you know what you'd get before you even started. The typical American spade-jawed type in a white vest with a gun and trunkful of ammo - although the updated version can just as well be a heroine wearing Bruce Lee's tracksuit (just because) and weilding a samauri sword - on a justified you note (because it's always justified if the hero is American and 'done-wrong-by' in Hollywood) trail of rocking and rolling (see the soundtrack) rampage of revenge. Need you ask how it ends?
Which other film will have the central character ponder what he will do when he's had his vengeance - knowing full well his desire for revenge will not be extinguished?
This has several things that scream not Hollywood. Particularly the fact that the 'hero' is never fully in control of events and the outcome can't be assumed or assured.
There are no glib one-liners, no coincidences thrown in for effect, no obeisances to the high god of 'cool' and 'badass' (although, you can enjoy some scenes as such if you so wish - in particular some well choreographed fight scenes). Everything comes back to plot but not in an easy or comfortable manner by any means. Indeed the final denoument sheds everything that has gone before in an entirely new light, and changes it irrevocably.
With respect to the two-disc format of this film, I personally thought I'd died and gone to heaven. There are plenty of extras, even a director's commentary and interviews with the cast, giving it a well rounded and thought out feel that is truly appreciated in such a worthy title, nevermind a foreign title. Any questions I might have had about the film were pretty much answered by the time I'd watched all the additional material. My personal favourite extra was the score commentary, especially as the central waltz theme is so beautiful.
In other words, if you're not a fan of gratuitously violent films and are turned off by the theme of vengeance being espoused here, DON'T walk away. WATCH THIS FILM. You're bound to be in some way surprised.
If you're looking for Kill Bill Mach III, avoid - you'll be disappointed.
On this film you'll actually have to use your brain, and not your appreciation of swordplay or arterial spray. And if you like David Fincher, definitely give it a go. This film is funny, disturbing, thought provoking and heart-breaking all at once. And I, for one, write this as someone who generally can't tolerate the depiction of on-screen violence to make a character look or sound 'cool'; this film relieved me on that point, not only with the well-rounded characterisation but the well-considered plot. Even the director stated that he inserted one humourous visual specifically because the central character was trying to look too cool.
A+ in my opinion.
Long Live Oldboy, Kill Bill is dead.
on 21 March 2005
I had heard about this film from a friend of a friend and have to say it was one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Be warnes, this film deserves it's 18 rating but it is so beautifully shot that the violence is never gratuitous or excessive. There is a good bit of blood but never on the OTT Kill Bill vein but it is disturbing at times. The story focuses on a man's search for the truth to why he was kidnapped for 15 years without explanation. The main character, Oh Daesu, teams up with a young woman intrigued by his story and eager to help him. But nothing is what it seems in this film and the truth behind the kidnapping is more disturbing and twisted. As with a lot of asian cinema it defies western conventions and the director clearly has an eye for imagery, the film almost takes on a manga style of image after image. There is a beautifully shot fight scene in a corridor that is done side on and in one long, continous shot that is one of the best scenes in the whole movie and in fact in cinema. No film is perfect and some things don't quite ring true, the kidnapper seems awfully young for the role and it is hard to accept the reason why he arranged the kidnapping. His revenge however is disturbing and not for the faint-hearted. With conservative censorship reagning supreme in Hollywood at the moment there is no doubt that an American version of this film would water down the story, as they did with the Ring, so why not stick with the original when it is such an amazing work.
on 12 August 2006
This is a brilliant film. It is definately one of my favourites and there are very few (if any)bad points I can point out. It looks (and sounds) absoloutely beautiful, due to some of the best direction and cinematogrophy that has ever passed my eyes. There are so many memorable scenes, and even more memorable shots- never have I seen a film with more poster oppurtunities! There is a single shot, corridor fight scene which is just breathtaking.
Alot of people have complained about the film having too much style and no substance. Nonsense! This couldn't be further from the truth, and it has one of the best twists I have ever witnessed.
This is quite a violent film which will put some people off, but really I don't think it should. It is such a beautiful film and the violence is never gratuitous. Much it is implied and it has far less violence than mainstream films like Kill Bill, which is far less controversial. The only thng I would say is that it certainly has more of a gritty realism.
If you have seen any of Park's other films, I do not think you will dissapointed. I really cannot recommend this film enough. Watch it!!
on 20 February 2007
Oldboy really sticks out to me. The way it's shot, the FANTASTIC musical score and the faultless acting. Brilliant.
Sounds like I'm hyping it up? Maybe I am, but in my opinion it really is that good. If I had to compare it with a western film then I'd pick Fight Club. It really has you thinking all the way through: what's going on? Who is this character? Why has this happened? This isn't a bad thing though, it's handled in the way that Fight Club was filmed so that after each revelation you think, "Ohhh, so that's why." This in itself is great as the film feels like a real mystery at first but by the end it wraps itself up neatly.
In terms of action there isn't as much as I was expecting, but Old Boy is more of a psychological thriller than an action romp. The action that's included is well choreographed and has a gritty feel to it. No wireworks or 3D special effects here.
In conclusion, if you haven't experienced world cinema before then Old Boy is a great place to start. If you have then I'd still recommend Old Boy regardless, it makes a great addition to any film buff's collection.