Oldboy (2003)

September 5, 2006

I discovered Oldboy through browsing the Netflix website. It’s a Korean film that follows Dae-su Oh, a middle-aged man imprisoned for seemingly no reason for 15 years. old.jpgAt the end of those 15 years, he is just as inexplicably released, and he begins a quest to discover the identity of who imprisoned him and, of course, to get his revenge. Netflix describes the director, Chan-wook Park, as “a former philosophy student and Hitchcock devotee.” Since I (a) tend to like most Asian films, (b) enjoy my films a little heavy-handed and thus don’t mind a little philsophy here or there, and (c) like everything Hitchcock – I figured this film would be something I would enjoy. Turns out I was wrong.

The film did not have much of a philosophical bent to it; nor did it remind me in the least of Hitchcock. I can say it reminded me greatly of a Quentin Tarentino film, however. This is not only because it was tremendously violent and disturbing (it really was – I’m not particularly squeamish, but some scenes in this film really tested my limits), but because it relied heavily upon a certain stlyistic, gimmicky way of filming that I find so characteristic of Tarentino’s work. Such films, to me, seem to rely more on flash than substance to me – utilizing narrative twists and over-the-top camera work to propel the film. I know there are people who really enjoy this type of work, and if you’re one of them, you would probably like Oldboy. I can recognize that it was really well done, with good acting, exceptional camera work and editing, etc. It just wasn’t the type of film I enjoy personally.

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