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.

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.

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9 Comments

  1. February 4, 2015 / 12:14 AM

    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 🙂

    • February 5, 2015 / 10:51 PM

      Yes, I will! The other two have also been recommended to me, though less often, so I’m anxious to check them out soon. Also Thirst, I hear good things.

  2. Brittani
    February 4, 2015 / 12:55 PM

    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.

    • Sophie Athawes
      February 4, 2015 / 2:34 PM

      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!

      • February 5, 2015 / 10:55 PM

        Yup, totally true. The only asian remake that I’ve liked so far was The Ring. Perhaps not as great as Ringu, but equally terrifying for me.

    • February 5, 2015 / 10:52 PM

      Thanks, Brittani – so glad you like it too. I have zero interest in watching the remake, haha.

  3. Sophie Athawes
    February 4, 2015 / 2:33 PM

    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

    • February 5, 2015 / 10:57 PM

      I haven’t seen it, but I’ll be sure to check it out. Oh yes, I read about that, and that he prayed for each of them… kind of sad. Thanks, Sophie!

  4. Josh
    April 3, 2015 / 10:46 PM

    This movie is insane, but it’s so great. Glad you loved it!

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