The film is mysterious and immersive from the start. Oh Dae-su, a drunk businessman and a bad father - who misses his daughters 4th birthday party -, is imprisoned by an anonymous figure. He remains incarcerated for 15 years, meanwhile building himself physically and plotting his revenge. The disturbing imagery and intensity of this scene set us up perfectly for what follows. Suddenly, after 15 years, he is released, and from then on this becomes a film full of twists. Oh Dae-su, a man sexually deprived and tortured by fetishised female figures on the TV, meets the young and beautiful Mi-do, and they start a romantic and intimate relationship. He then discovers that an old schoolmate, Lee Woo-jin, has been behind his imprisonment all along, exacting his own revenge. Oh Dae-su medalled in Woo-jin's incestuous relationship with his sister, the revealing of which led to her suicide. We then receive one of the most shocking plot twists ever. Mi-do, who we see having intense and passionate sex with Oh Dae-su, is really his daughter. Woo-jin has manipulated their lives all along, a parallel of the media Oh Dae-su was manipulated by during his imprisonment. Woo-jin gets his revenge, which is enhanced by the grovelling Dae-su chopping out his tongue in a symbolic gesture whilst begging Woo-jin to keep Mi-do in the dark. This plot-twist, though arguably perverse and contrived, is treated with such delicacy and subtlety. In Star Wars, Darth Vader is obviously Luke's father, but here we have no idea which way this film is going, and when we find out it is gut-wrenching. Chan-Wook's poetic and lyrical style hypnotises us and whisks us along, disarming our critical faculties. It is a genius and unpredictable twist, playing on our support for Dae-su's and Mi-do's partnership. It can only really work because of Chan-Wook's success in developing fully fleshed-out, complicated, and likeable characters, enhanced by their strong performances. It's still exquisitely shot, but there is much more than just style to this film. Where Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance fails is in its attempts to make us care about the story, but Oldboy succeeds with aplomb. Our acceptance to dive in, and go on a dizzying ride with Oh Dae-su, is essential.
Though for some too emotionally manipulative, overly gory, and shock value oriented, if you are able to let yourself become absorbed in this film then it is incredibly rewarding. Chan-Wook's mature handling of the plot means that we are never alienated by the subversive plot and its sickening twists. It proves that Chan-Wook can make narratively sound cinema, without having to compromise his bold aestheticism. If you don't mind cinema with sex, blood, and taboo subject matter, then this unusual slice of brilliance is a must-see. It represents the height of Chan-Wook's artistry and is the pinnacle of quality in this trilogy. Despite Hollywood's best efforts, a film this unique could never be reproduced.
but yeah this one has better cinematography and plot.
what a fascinating movie.
Weep and you weep alone
Like THE VILLAGE, divulging too much of the plot will spoil the fun of watching this movie. Wait. To say 'spoil the fun' is not really appropriate. I can use that phrase on THE VILLAGE but for OLDBOY, it is more than that. You can tell your friends about the many twists but they need to watch it to know what you are talking about.
It is KILL BILL with many twists and nasty surprises. It only not strives to keep you at the edge of the seat with a very very intriguing story and along the way it also attempts to make your stomach sick with violent scenes and perverted revelations.
There are many similarities to KILL BILL but Quentin Tarantino chooses this as his favourite at the Cannes. He has many reasons to realise that there are also many differences between the two. The revenge tale and the violence are the only common things. Other than that, the stylish directing style is different and the stories want to achieve different objectives. This one wants to take us by surprises till the very end.
The plot is rather impossible and even more so for the ending. Still I like this movie. It pushes the envelope in many ways, including the cameraworks. The opening scene sets the story going already. The fade-ins used in the narration are unique. The long shot of the main character fighting off a gang with a hammer is so real I wonder how they get it made without really hurting anyone. Not to mention the countless rehearsals to get it right.
Ok. Just a very small spoiler (which can hardly qualified as one really), the title itself should be changed to keep the whole mystery fully intact.
Expected Rating: B