I don’t have your f’n ball, okay!?

Theatrical Release Date: 11/21/2003 (South Korea), 03/25/2005 (USA)
Director: Chan-wook Park
Cast: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang

I am usually not one for foreign films, but if it is a brutal tale of revenge that involves people being bludgeoned, stabbed, beaten, and tortured I may change my mind. Add some suspense and a psychological twist and it’s enough arm-twisting for me to get from Netflix. Although I am not sure that I am entirely pleased with this selection.

I say that because this movie made me ask some critical questions. Is it possible to really like everything about a film except the plot-twist? And if you don’t like the plot twist, does it trash an entire film?

I would say yes and no. Confused? Read on …

The story is nothing short of incredible. A regular Korean Joe named Dae-Su Oh is kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years. He doesn’t know why he was taken or who is responsible for his captivity. He doesn’t know what he did to deserve this inhumane treatment. But he does know that when he gets out, the person responsible is going to pay.

Calluses form on his knuckles and his heart, until one day he wakes up and is free. Free to take revenge …

But this film redefines vengeance, and what it means if your vengeance is lost in someone else’s insidious plan.

The presentation of this film is excellent. Even though ones eyes have to take in a scene and read subtitles and do this for 2 hours, you never tire of it. The use of color and shade to convey emotion is extraordinary. The acting is always believable and convincing, despite the fact that the movie will swing between “Hostel” like levels of violence and scenes of immense tenderness.

There is a long one-take scene where Dae-Su Oh fights through a horde of grunts with only a hammer and his hatred. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t beautifully choreographed. It is filmed to appear as raw and brutal as the character has become.

I am not going to write about where that emotion carries Dae-Su and if it leads to the answers he is looking for. In the words of Time Life -“It’s in the book.” But in this case the book isn’t a book, it’s a movie. So watch it if you want to find out. It’s good. Especially if a twisted revenge pic blows your hair back.

I’ll give “Oldboy” a strong 4 out of 5. The only problem I have with the film is the odd plot twist. But in the context of the film I concede that it makes sense. It doesn’t make it less infuriating, it just means it fits well as a plot point in the movie. Which kind of makes it more infuriating. Just know this: at the end you will be exasperated. Still confused?