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January ’15 Blind Spot: Oldboy, 2003

“Be it a rock or a grain of sand,
in water they sink as the same.”
WOO-JIN LEE, IN OLDBOY

The minute I decided to enter this challenge I knew that one particular movie needed to be in my list – Old Boy. It’s the film I get recommended the most, and being unforgivably unfamiliar with Korean cinema, this pick was a no-brainer. But knowing about it didn’t prepare me at all for its viewing: I expected a violent revenge tale, but what I got was a bloody comedy, a moving and disturbing drama, and then a violent revenge tale (and not from the character I expected it from). All in one beautiful – talk about striking cinematography – crazy, excessive movie that had me double-checking my reactions throughout. Should I laugh, be repulsed, or cry? Is it possible to do it all at once? It is!

[ Spoilers below ]

The incest theme is both shocking and refreshing in an age where controversial material is so rare in movies – as if depicting equals condoning – and it is so cleverly done that you can’t help but be torn apart by mixed feelings. Also interesting is how we start with a hero and faceless villain, and in the end they’re both so equally miserable that they’re assigned roles become indistinguishable from one another.

See Also
Five Funny And Iconic Character Meltdowns in Movies

It’s dark, twisted stuff and I shamelessly love it for that; in fact I believe Dae-Su’s crying in the end means the hypnosis didn’t work – that’s how bleak I like my movies.


food for thought

If PETA gave The Wolf of Wall Street so much grief over a goldfish being inside Jonah Hill’s mouth,
what would they say about the eating of four live octopuses?

Verdict
Having seen Stoker too, I’m ready for more from Chan-wook Park!

                                                  
This is the year’s first entry for the Blind Spot Series
These posts are a collection of first impressions, musings and loose thoughts – not reviews.

View Comments (9)
  • Oldboy has been on my watch list too long, I really need to start tackling on my foreign film list. Are you planning to see the other movies as well? Oldboy is part of the Vengeance trilogy; the other two movies might be worth to watch 🙂

  • Great review! I love Oldboy. When I first saw it, I watched the English dub and it was terrible. Watching the subtitled version was like seeing a completely different movie. The remake was awful though.

    • I think alot of it gets lost in translation – I love Josh Brolin, such a shame the new one isn’t great because the original is amazing. American directors never quite understand what they were going for with asian remakes!

  • I love this film. Chan Wook-Park is always amazing, have you seen the Three extremes? He directs one of the 3 short films in it and it’s great. I haven’t gotten round to seeing the English reboot but I love the original too much. Did you know that Min-Sik Choi is actually a vegetarian and he had to eat that live squid??! Another great review hun xx

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