Sunday, August 29, 2010
Oh Dae-su (played brilliantly by Choi Min-sik) is about to experience a series of horrific events that nobody could ever possibly begin to imagine, in the blink of an eye his life is about to change forever. It all begins one night in 1988 when he is arrested for public drunkenness. This is where the film opens, a rather plump looking Oh Dae-su making a complete ass of himself at a police station while awaiting his friend to come bail him out. Finally the friend arrives, and with daughter’s birthday present in hand Dae-su leaves the station. Before heading home they stop at a pay phone to call home. After a brief conversation Dae-su hands the phone over and steps aside. His rescuer assures Dae-sus wife they are on the way and hangs up. As he steps out of the booth he is horrified to find that in just a mere few seconds Oh Dae-su is gone.
Oh Dae-su awakens, he finds himself locked in a prison disguised like a cheap motel, equipped with a bed, kitchen, and even a television. Confused and frightened he yells out the small hole in the door where his meals are slid to him like a dog being fed in a cannel. He rapidly spends all his energy pounding and crying out for answers that he would inevitably never be handed to him. He would go on to spend 15 years in this room with not even a hint as to where he is, or more importantly why he is being held prisoner. But this time would not go by wasted. He uses the television as a companion and teacher who would guide him through the major events going on in the outside. Including the grim news that not only is his family dead, but he himself is blamed for the murders. Now He will train, train, and train. Training himself physically and mentally, preparing himself for one thing and one thing only. To escape this confinement and to find answers. Though he begins his rigorous escape plan it would prove all too unnecessary.
He has gotten used to being gassed to sleep on occasion and awaked to a cleaned room, a haircut, and a clean shave. But one day after being gassed he wakes up to something completely shocking. He has been released. Given a new suit, money and a cell phone he is finally free. But why? The answer to that question won’t come easy for Oh Dae-su as he is about to embark on a grizzly and brutal journey to find this answer, and when he does the answer itself may be far worse than anything he has be subjected to thus far.
Simply said Oldboy is a genuine masterpiece of film making, easily one of the best and most universally beloved films to date and Director Park Chan-wooks finest work. But watching it comes with a price, the journey itself takes the viewer on an almost equal ride with our protagonist Oh Dae-su. All the way up to the truly spine chilling reveal at the end, everything that happens is explained only as Dae-su learns it himself. It’s an unforgettable experience that will leave anyone who watches it both amazed, and horrified!
Besides great writing, superb direction, and top notch cinematography the cast is absolutely stellar. Choi Min-sik is of course fantastic. But co-stars Yoo ji-tae and Kang Hye-jeong are outstanding in their roles; especially Yoo ji-tae whose final moments in the film are simply stunning! Top that off with a superb supporting cast of mostly Park Chan-wook regulars including Kim Byeong-on, and an unforgettable appearance from Oh Dal-soo.
Oldboy should be mandatory viewing for anyone who appreciates fine film making. It’s defiantly not for the casual movie-goer who may not appreciate what it has to offer, and who may be quite off put by some truly horrific moments. But if you can appreciate talent you will enjoy this, and for fans of Korean Cinema. Well if you are one you have seen this already, probably many many times.
A Film by Park Chan-wook