WOW! I want to go on record of saying I saw this before it was remade and Americanized.
The Story: It's simple, a man is locked up in a private prison for fifteen years for no apparent reason, when he is released he only has five days to find out why he was locked away for so long. It's stylish and atmospheric, not to mention extremely well written and full of twists and turns. It's gritty feel will immerse you in the world of sex and violence even though it seems unsettling and disturbing at times, you can't help but feel compelled to continue watching. On that note, I can't stress the violence enough, this is NOT for the squeamish, I'm not giving anything away when I say this, but there's a three minute fight sequence where our hero has a knife in his back for two. And there's a decent amount of sex, whether or not the graphic nature of the sex scenes were necessary is up to the viewer... Okay, so I've read a lot of bad things about this, it's plot holes, it's "stupidity", it's blah, blah, blah... And for all of those people, TAKE A F***ING BREATH! This is based on a Manga Comic book! Since when do comic books have to make sense? If any of the people down on this film are fans of Spiderman, Superman, or even Batman or any other comic book hero than they're hypocrites! "Oh, it's so unrealistic!" "Oh, it's got a plot hole here and there!" "Oh, that couldn't happen!"... Good God people! Do you even know the source material of this film?
The Cast: Min-sik Choi , Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang... I watched this with an English dub because I don't speak Korean, so I don't really know how well they acted verbally. I do know however that they all acted extremely well physically. Min-sik Choi is Dae-su Oh, the man imprisoned for fifteen years, desperate to find all the answers and seeking revenge for his time spent locked away. He gives a great performance as he looks like he's been to hell and back, his weathered and worn face shows more pain and sadness than any words could ever describe. Hye-jeong Kang is Mi-do, a young girl bent on helping Dae-su Oh she doesn't give the best performance here, but she still does a great job. Ji-tae Yu is Woo-jin Lee, the villain. Sometimes he looks the part of the bad-ass, but sometimes, he doesn't look the part of the bad-ass. But no matter how he looks, you know he's force to be reckoned with. Like I said I watched this with English voice work, and there's something to be said about English talent, and that is, it's above and beyond the call of duty. The voice work is top notch and Oscar Caliber, yeah, it's that good.
One to Five Scale: 5
My highest recommendations go out for this film. It's truly one of a kind, a great noir-ish mystery through and through. If you're a fan of the genre this is a must see! Go out and rent it, buy it, do whatever it takes to see it!
Okay... Now for some ranting and raving...
I found out that this film has an announced American remake due out in 2008... It's been said that it's possibly going to be shelved, and for that, all I can say is that I hope it is shelved because it most likely won't live up to the original. I hope this isn't going to be the product of American fame and failure like other translated thrillers like the Grudge.
but a lot of people seem to see more in it than i do
the story may hold some originality, but most of the violence is absolutly typical for korean movies and for my taste the main character was way too undetermined - you catch the guy who tortured you - you kill him. you don't let him play with your curiousity
the acting was mediocre also
and after all that had happened to the main character i don't think that being in love with his doughter would be his biggest problem - feels a bit artificial ... like being there just so he can continue suffering, which at some point starts being borring
but after ranting a bit - still quite a lot of funny moments and ideas here, worth watching in my opinion