"Oldboy," now out on DVD, is the latest Asian import to be receiving rave reviews from critics and film aficionados alike, and if you're into weird, edgy and twisted filmmaking, it might be right up your alley. Still, it may be a little over hyped.
The strangely-titled film has an equally weird plot. A drunk named Dae-su Oh finds himself locked in a room by an unknown captor, and he remains in the room for fifteen years. Then, one morning, he is suddenly released on a grass-covered rooftop and forced to discover the truth on his own. The problem is, he doesn't know who kidnapped him or why. Oh, and he was framed for his wife's murder.
"Oldboy" takes satisfaction in knowing that it's slightly weird, marginally confusing and ultimately f**ked up, which should appeal to audiences that like slightly weird, marginally confusing and ultimately f**ked up movies. It takes a little while to really get into the movie, despite the director's cheap attempt to snag the audience with the film's opening scene (which proves to be nothing of importance to the story), but once the film gets going, it really gets going. From the impending question of why to simple pleasures such as the extraction of a man's teeth with a hammer, "Old Boy" is a continuously disturbing film that cumulates with a kick-ass (and screwed up) twist ending.
All that being said, despite the fact that the movie greatly capitalizes on its messed up elements, "Oldboy" is not without flaws. Parts of the movie are surprisingly dull, mainly due to the execution than anything else. More so, the fighting scenes are completely out of place; why director Chan-wook Park chose to include action scenes is beyond me, as this is not what this movie is about. The way the fight sequence in the hallway was filmed was quite neat, but the action merely served as filler for the richer subplots in the movie.
The DVD, unfortunately, lacks the goods to make it anything more than average. A bunch of deleted scenes, most of which were rightly cut from the film, an interview with the director (in subtitles which did not automatically turn on in my DVD player) and various trailers are all that make up the special features section. Oh, and an audio commentary which some fans may enjoy.
"Oldboy" is an effective thriller with a cool plot and a screwed up twist ending, but it isn't the masterpiece some people are claiming to be.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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