“Oldboy” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

23 January, 2018

Year of Release: 2003
Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook, Lim Chun-hyeong, Hwang Jo-yun
Director of Photography: 
Chung Chung-hoon
Choi Min-sik, Yu Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong

Synopsis: Abducted by an unknown assailant and imprisoned in a windowless room away from human contact, a man reintegrates into society while being forced to track down the twisted individual who locked him away for fifteen years.

Oldboy Review:

A film to rival “Fight Club” and “The Usual Suspects” as the finest denouement masterpiece of the past two and a half decades, “Oldboy” is a confident, practically Shakespearean mystery-thriller which delights in peeling back the layers of its narrative at a breathless pace. Flawless in prelude alone as Park Chan-wook gives us the blueprint to open his magnum opus, the film iconifies a dumbfounded protagonist who emerges from his slumber with flattened knuckles, a badass haircut, and a brand new suit ready to confront the person who stole and reshaped the course of his life.

Maintaining a seamless balance between the violence of the Korean art-house and reflections on love, sexual expression, and social brainwashing, “Oldboy” falls back on proverbs that ring true in its pithy story as a film of oddities blossoms into perverse revenge with the ultimate comeuppance. Distracting viewers with twists and turns, the movie wriggles like a half-chewed octopus, wearing tinted shades as it embarks on a doomed journey of self-discovery, trawling through the history of one man as he unearths forgotten secrets from his youth and immediately regrets his mistakes.

Unafraid to hand over all of the film’s glory to its unforgettable antagonist, Park Chan-wook both cheers and cowers in the direction of his lead villain, creating a character whose perfect revenge plot fashions a window into psychopathy while he hums the theme of his perfectly orchestrated opera like an artist unveiling a final masterpiece. Blanketed by a beautiful, timeless film score, “Oldboy” is a tragedy with a wickedly dark sense of humour; a film that induces both laughter and tears as the misfortunes of a multitude of characters spill out like the innards of a rotting corpse. There’s no flavour quite like this one… and it tastes an awful lot like fried mandu.


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