I've heard about his Korean independent film a few times over the last decade but never watched it until now. OLDBOY does have a turn-of-the-Century feel to it, exemplified by OS graphics and extreme exposition. These dated characteristics don't detract from the film. They make the film. OLDBOY's twisted and perverse story is so over-the-top, brazenly provocative, and so thoroughly saturates its entire world, it's easy to take it all seriously as normative. The production is as twisted, hypnotic, and mysterious as the story, and pulls the audience along with a tight grip of the nose between the knuckles.
With the characters and story, OLDBOY uses the wide gulf between the entitled and the middle-class, driving a hard fist to the gut of the disparity between the powerful and the susceptibly dependent. The characters are as vehemently over-the-top as the story. Once the mystery is revealed, the pieces all fall into place into a logical conclusion, giving the film a sense of being refreshingly honest.
This film has several twists & turns, and keeps twisting away, which makes one of the final, critical twists easy to guess. Guessing the twists isn't a bad thing. Though it lessens the shock of the reveal, it does leave the viewer satisfied for paying attention to the characters' personalities to learn the logic of their behaviors.
The ambiguous ending on a snow-covered mountain range is appropriate as the film leaves with an over-all cold, hard sentiment.
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