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March 29, 2011

You don't want to run into this guy

I will start this off with a little piece of advice: don’t watch an extremely sadistic, violent, sexual, Korean movie while at work with your 50-year old boss who isn’t supposed to know you are watching movies. That being said, it really doesn’t matter the circumstances in which you choose to watch Oldboy, because no matter where you are, who you are with, or what insane, horrific films you have seen before, Oldboy will undoubtedly blow your mind. And I mean that literally, your brain actually explodes while witnessing the events of this film. Although that may not sounds like your cup of tea, it is a rare experience when a movie can truly shock you, while holding your attention to the last second of flickering light. Shock and awe movies like Saw, Human Centipede (just watch Tosh.0‘s Spoiler Alert of Human Centipede and you’ll have a much better time then watching the actual movie), and Hostel just rely on gore and plot holes to create low budget, horribly acted horror flicks. Ok fine, Saw was pretty good. It must have been the 13 movies they made after the first one kind of ruined the entire experience for me. But Oldboy, like other Korean thrillers, breaks this mold with a hammer to the cranium, literally. I’m not sure if I got lucky or not, but I watched the film with English overdubs, which definitely helps out when you are pretending to fold shirts instead of watching kung-fu. But I feel like I lost a lot of the nuances in terms of emotionality from the tones in the actors’ voices. So you might want to buckle down and watch it with subtitles (it’s worth it).

This film centers around an average man named Dae-Su Oh (played by Min-sik Choi) who after a drunken night out on his daughters birthday is kidnapped. This is not just any other kidnapping. There is no ransom, no requests, and no apparent kidnappers. Instead, Dae-su is put in a hotel-like room, with no windows and only a TV to keep him company. As the days, and months go on, Dae-su learns nothing about those holding him captive, what their motives are, or why they will only serve him fried dumplings. Dae-su is held captive for 15 long years, and never learns anything about the reasons for this punishment.


I could totally eat these for 15 years and have no problems

Unlike most, Dae-su makes the best of his time in his own little world. That is besides the multiple attempts to kill himself. When he is not trying to escape his own personal hell, he is training. He quickly looses weight and starts to teach himself kung-fu. He learns everything he possibly can from what he sees on TV. He also makes a list of everyone who could have possibly done this to him, consisting of everyone he wronged through out his life. And occasionally his room is gassed and he is put to sleep. He never knows what done to him while he is out, but every time Dae-su tries to kill himself, he is gassed and when he wake up he has been bandaged up and his life has been saved. He is thoroughly confused, frustrated, loathsome, insane, and pretty much every bad emotion you can feel. Dae-su begins to give up hope.

And as if by divine intervention, Dae-su is set free. After 15 years of captivity, Dae-su wake up in a suitcase on the top of a building in a new suit, and is officially even more confused then ever. He just so happens to stumble upon a man about to kill himself, to whom he relates his awful story to. It’s clear that, like his captivity, his release is some part of a plan. So Dae-su sets into motion his own plan to avenge what has befallen him and find those that took 15 years away from him. But first he must test out his skills, because punching a wall for 15 years is not the same as fighting real live bad guys. So he picks a fight with some local street thugs, and thoroughly ruins their day, quickly realizing that all his training actually paid off.


It's good he didn't bump into Mr. Norris

Immediately things start to get weird for Dae-su (as if they weren’t already weird enough). He is given a phone and a stack of money by some random guy on the street. He then goes into a sushi shop where he meets the chef, a girl named Mi-do. There is an instantaneous, uncanny attraction between the two of them. So Dae-su decides to really get her blood flowing by eating a giant live octopus in front of her and passing out on the counter (great first date). Mi-do decides that this is guy she wants to get to know and help him out. Although at first Dae-su is reluctant to let Mi-do help him, he eventually come to feel extremely strong and love Mi-do as she aids him in his search for his captors. He also continues to fight hoards of men with his weapon of choice; a hammer. Amazing fight sequences ensue.

Speaking of his captors, the one responsible for taking Dae-su actually present himself to our vengeful hero. But this fails to answer anymore questions, except that the answer is buries in Dae-su’s past. I honestly can not say any more then what I have already divulged because the twist at the final act of this thrill ride is too amazing/terrible to ruin it. You will never forget having watched this film, I can promise that. Undeniably the single most heart scratching, eye gouging, hands over the mouth moment happens when you finally conceptualize the true scope of what has been done to this man. It’s unbelievable and must be watched. Unless your feeling like a comedy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Patrick permalink
    March 29, 2011 7:19 pm

    I agree Ian, This movie is f ‘ed up. I saw it back in highschool and also caught Park’s other two films in the Vengeance series, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance. Oldboy is definitely the most shocking but I personally liked Lady Vengeance best. It has amazing visuals and an unforgiving lead actress.

    • March 29, 2011 10:03 pm

      After watching Oldboy I am definitely going to have to check out Park’s other movies because as you said and others have told me apparently whole trilogy is amazing and 100% worth watching. I also am planning on watching I Saw The Devil which came out recently. I’ve heard it’s right up there in terms of insanity and stars some of Korea’s most famous actors. Have you seen it?

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