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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oldboy (2003, Korean)

Director: Park Chan-wook
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Cast: Min-sik Choi

Fifteen years of hatred turns to guilt.

Oldboy 2003 Korean
First few minutes (rather an hour!) of the movie don't make much sense—obviously scripted like that on purpose. We do realize director is planning a twist down the line but are fairly apprehensive as many movies fail to create that perfect ending—when it comes to a twist, not every movie is a 'Rebecca' or 'Perfume'. This movie though, is almost in league with the best.
A beautifully and thoughtfully written script unravels the mystery/purpose of whatever all that didn't made sense earlier.

Oh Dae-su is in captivity for past fifteen years. In this time-period, after getting over the initial depression, he maintains his fitness through shadow training. He is now out and seeking revenge and you too are rooting for him. Some way forward into the movie, you don’t know who to support!
Now, Park Chan-wook very artistically represents so-called villain’s aspect. The villainy in the movie isn’t exactly a criminal act as those involved don’t hurt anyone or even feel guilty until one of them cracks under societal pressure. This breakdown is partly due to an act of our protagonist and, in-a-way, makes him the bad-guy. But his act wasn’t villainous either; however, you do feel sympathy for the affected. By the end of movie, what eventually happens with our hero simply leaves you dumbstruck. This ‘what’ was an act of sheer villainy, still—testimony to class of director and script—you are muttering under your breadth, ‘revenge is sweet’!
In all, it is about a highly-improbable scenario that occurs in extremities of convoluted mind/heart/soul.

As for violence, movie isn't as graphic as; say, those 'Saw' or 'Hostel' movies but what it does to your mind (recall that tooth-pulling scene!) is way more disturbing than it is in movies specifically made for showing blood-gore. The emotions are running so high that you feel hatred and vengeance in your bones.

Subject/content of the movie is not much of a taboo (it simply is), more specifically 'incest', as much has been written and shown about it. Of course in today's modern world 'incest' isn't socially accepted but in the past there have been tribes, royalties, even civilizations where this was a common practice and not that big a deal. Director here doesn't dabble in moralities; he simply introduces you to the depths of a twisted human mind.

This is a very powerful film in terms of analysis of human psyche, and cleverly, Park Chan-wook steers clear of depicting/justifying good or evil. He leaves all that to viewers. Even the last scene shows Oh Dae-su (once the movie ends you realize how fabulous Min-sik Choi actually was) with a contorted smile and you simply wonder!  

And no surprise, a remake (Spike Lee) is in pipeline!

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