Thursday, 26 March 2015

Review: Oldboy

I can't believe I haven't seen…

Oldboy Poster

Oldboy (2003)
Cert: 18 / 119 mins / Dir. Chan-wook Park / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Okay, that was weirder than expected. Chan-wook Park's revenge thriller takes a long, lingering look down the path most genre-movies would walk then dismisses it with barely another thought, but somehow keeping the unravelling mystery and occasional bursts of gleeful violence intact.

The weirdness is a major factor of course, and it occurred to me that it could be the result of a cultural disparity between Korean and more 'Western' cinema. But on balance, I've arrived at the conclusion that it's just meant to be weird. Which isn't really to say that the film is relentlessly grim and unnerving; moments of pitch-black humour intersperse protagonist Dae-su's search for not only his captor, but for the reason behind his 15-year incarceration, and it's a well-told, offbeat story.

It's not all plain sailing, however, and the various visual/narrative techniques used throughout the film (to great effect individually) don't always gel together as well as you'd like. Much of the framing's absolutely gorgeous, but then it's used for fight-scenes which feel plastic and non-threatening (I didn't come for the violence, but I expected it).

I don't think the film has changed my life or perspective on movies, but it interested the fuck out of me, and I'm actually intrigued to see the 2013 Spike Lee remake, now. Well played, Mr Park.

Oh, and I didn't eat seafood before watching Oldboy, but after watching Min-sik Choi munch a live octopus, you'll be lucky to find me near an aquarium without a sickbag…

Have you really never seen this before?
Nope. As is becoming the standard, Oldboy had been recommended to me several times, but only by people who failed to convince me I needed to see it. Incidentally, some sources put this film as 2003, some as 2004 and some as 2005. But I hadn't seen it before tonight, and 2003 fits my viewing schedule, so bite me.

So are you glad you've finally have?
I am.

And would you recommend it, now?
I pretty much would, yes.
But not to everyone, and not all of the time

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Oh, you thought a Korean-language thriller would be a nightmare to link quickly didn't you? Well, Oldboy director Chan-wook also headed up 2013's gothic-noir, Stoker, a film which starred The Phantom Menace's very own Naboo pilot, Ralph Brown.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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