Oldboy (2003) – Watch where your mouth runs off

What’s this ? This thrilling feeling of satisfaction after watching a movie ? I really thought I lost that a very long time ago.

Perhaps that whole sentence summarized my whole experience watching this masterpiece of a movie. And I would have cursed myself had I walked out on the lesson when this showed, despite the teacher allowing the students to walk right out of class.

Iconic representation of the ‘oldboy’.

There was this Korean by the name of Dae-su. Typical punk who grew up into a bad-mannered adult, but still managed to get a family started. Got drunk on the night of his daughter’s birthday and brawled with some people. After getting bailed out, he uses a public phone to call his daughter when he suddenly gets kidnapped. He was then imprisoned for 15 years for no apparent reason, to his knowledge, of course.  Living off nothing but being fed dumplings and a TV set, he underwent drastic physical and psychological change, filled with contemplation and attempts at escape. On the day of his release, he woke up only to find himself on the roof equipped with provisions to get started, as he begins his quest for revenge. ( hy would you not want to kill the person who imprisoned you for a good 15 years for no reason ?)

The plot of the movie was anything but mediocre. It actually gives one a rewarding, exhilarating and satisfying sense of time well-spent. The movie had me thinking deeply hours after I finished watching it. And I recall very few movies doing that to me. The rate at which everything comes into piece – how Dae Su’s torture is eventually justified and explained, is masterfully put together in a down-to-earth , albeit sadistic way. Everything about the plot is neatly concealed with Dae-su’s seemingly justifiable actions, while much larger and more complicated and ingeniously weaved schemes that underlay it. We go deep into the recesses of a human’s dark side and the actions that it could think of to inflict pain on another human being; disregarding the fact whether or not it is justified. Thus, character development is what this movie did right, and that should be a huge criteria in any movie critic’s score sheet. The movie also uncannily explores the morality of human decisions; our actions are never truly good or bad, they are always double-edged no matter what.

Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that this movie is undoubtedly one of the goriest things of the decade, and memorably gory at that one. Movies like Scream, Final Destination and Nightmare on Elm Street are sure scary, but the already-unrealistic settings and shallow plot of the movie make the scenes very forgettable and lacked the impact it intended. The vivid plot – revenge – rather than random spurts of blood and violence, made it very clear why Dae Su inflicts pain on those who have crossed him. Though, I found myself laughing when Dae Su severs his own tongue oh-so crudely at the final part of the movie ( spoilers, perhaps I should cut my fingers?), suggesting that a whole lot of this movie appeals to my inner sadist. The version of the movie I watched was also uncensored, so all the erotic scenes in this movie are at FULL POWER – to my delight (awkward chuckle ).

Aside from terrific acting, excellent music also complements the whole package nicely.  The soulfully composed background music subconsciously adds to the intensity of the fight scenes and the dialogues, making every scene all the more memorable. Despite the movie nearly being a decade old, the camera work is top notch as well.  This goes to show that technology was never, and will never be a limitation towards telling great stories.

Want a worthwhile watch ? Oldboy is a thought-provoking, grotesque yet masterfully composed moral epiphany in a theatrical nutshell.

And I heard there will be westernized remake of this masterpiece ? Will they be able to adapt it just as masterfully as its original or not? Well, I know what Hollywood is perfectly capable of – in good and bad ways – and I would just cross my fingers till that day dawns itself.


~ by keerakun on June 8, 2012.

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