written by Hwang Jo-yoon, Im Joon-hyeong, and Park Chan-wook
based on the manga series by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi
directed by Park Chan-wook
Rating: 3 / 4
This is one of those movies that’s so insane, it needs to be seen to be believed. South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s second film in his loosely linked Vengeance Trilogy – which includes 2002’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and 2005’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance – Oldboy is the story of Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), a man who is mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years and, upon being released, sets out to find the man who wronged him. Of course, the man who wronged him has an even more nefarious plan for Dae-su, one that will involve hypnotism, incest, and severed tongues.
I’m not a big fan of torture or graphic violence in movies, and there’s plenty of that in Oldboy. But it’s all presented in a cool stylized manner that I assume is in line with the original Japanese manga, with a heavy helping of black comedy, and cinematic moments such as a nearly three-minute single-take fight scene in a corridor. There’s also a final whopper of a twist you won’t soon forget. Oldboy may not be an easy watch, but it certainly leaves an impression.
Carlos I. Cuevas