Combining the sinister suspense of Alfred Hitchcock with the unrepentant violence of Quentin Tarantino, South Korean director Park Chan-wook delivers a revenge tale as shocking as it is thought-provoking.
Deserves to be seen because of its relentless energy, the acting by Choi Min-sik that strikes a genuinely tragic note amid the mayhem and cartoonish excess, and the director's clear conviction that this wild story will resonate.
You will either feel mollified by the hysterically moral denouement or feel offended by the filmmaker's strategy of debasement, which reduces the audience to the mongrel-like prostration of its protagonist.
It says something when you come out of a film as weird and fantastical as Oldboy and feel that you've experienced something truly authentic. I just don't know what. I can't think of anything to compare it to.
Oldboy may be a filmmaker's tour de force, but props should also be delivered to Choi, whose wretched, Herculean performance as the new millennium's Job could restore your faith in the selfless courage of acting.
Whether chomping down on a live octopus (in one of several scenes that require a strong stomach) or festering with half-crazed rage and impotence, Choi gives a bravura performance that powers the picture.