Finally something different; which is probably why this South Korean thriller is ranked #85 on IMBD’s top 250 movies. Granted, we have all read, seen, heard stories of revenge but I had never seen anything on this scale or this disturbing. I often dive into foreign films because I know if they are reaching us across the pond then they are worth watching and Oldboy is more wild, ghastly, fascinating and strange than any Hollywood production that comes to mind. The film, about a man who is imprisoned for 15 years without knowing why and his search to discover the reason, is so unfettered by effects and so captivating that it begs you to forget it is a movie and I had to turn away in moments of extreme violence.
What I liked: I have a hard time rating performances in a foreign language because I have to rely solely on visual expressions. In this case, I can say that Min-sik Choi, as protagonist Oh Dae-Su, and his certain transformation, torture, exhaustion and anger ring as emotionally true as any great performance. The editing is both gritty and stylized which makes it artistic (which is a welcome respite from the horror) and adds a touch of humour. There is one fight scene that astonished me for its realism; finally a fight where guys get tired!
What I didn’t like: South Korean culture is so different that, at times, I had trouble understanding or relating to what I was seeing, especially the female characters. However, I was so fascinated that it didn’t detract from the overall affect of the movie. Finally, the violence is more brutal that a Tarantino film. The film ends on a disturbing note and yet somehow we are relieved.
What I already know I don’t like: Rumours that Hollywood is going to remake this film. Disaster.
My rating: Worth closing your eyes through some horrifying scenes to watch the whole.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%