Paul Christian Glenn <glennp@...
2006-01-02 19:37:59 GMT
Last night I watched one of the most psychologically brutal films I've
ever seen. This was Chanwook Park's "Oldboy," a film that very nearly
took the Palm d'Or at Cannes 2004, but ended up with Grand
Jury Prize instead. This is the first Korean film that I've seen, and
it certainly lives up to it's reputation as a bloodthirsty revenge tale
that makes Quentin Tarantino's work look positively genteel. Tongues
are cut out with scissors, teeth are pried out with hammers, live
animals are eaten as they squirm. There is a beating heart beneath all
this violence, however, and a bravura performance by Choi Min-Sik that
will keep you riveted to the screen. It is a tale, not just of
vengeance, but of sin and its consequences.
For the sake of those who might be interested in seeing it, I'll keep
the summary spoiler-free. The film opens with a shabby-looking
businessman cooling his heels in the slammer after a night of rowdy
drunkenness. This is Oh Dae-su, and his run-in with the police has
caused him to miss his daughter's birthday. He bought her a birthday
present, a pair of strap-on angel wings, and he just wants to sober-up,
get home and celebrate with his family. An old high-school buddy bails
Dae-su out of jail, but on his way home he is inexplicably kidnapped,
and his life is changed forever.
Dae-su finds himself imprisoned in filthy hotel room. He does not know
who his captors are. Meals are pushed through a slot in the door, and
his only window to the outside world is the television. From the
evening news he learns that his wife has been murdered, and his hair
and blood were found at the scene, and he is now a wanted man.
He beats the walls and doors, he screams for release, or even just to
know why this is happening, but the answers do not come. He begins a