Friday, November 16, 2012

Oldboy (2003)

I usually don’t agree with “best movie” lists but any list that features Park Chan-wook I will pay attention to. Oldboy is one of the few movies that is actually deserving of its hype.

Oldboy is the second part of what is known as the “Vengeance Trilogy” (featuring Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) and is probably the best known of the three films and probably the best known Park film in general. It tells the story of Oh Dae-Su, a man who has been released after being imprisoned for 15 years (in what looks like a hotel room) without knowing why. He encounters a young lady at a seafood restaurant and together they try to uncover who Dae-Su’s captors are and the reason behind his imprisonment.

The beauty of Oldboy is in Park’s camerawork and in Choi Min-sik’s portrayal of Oh Dae-su, a sympathetic and flawed man trying to work his way out of a dark and confusing situation. The fight scene in the hallway is a truly remarkable piece of cinema, being filmed in one take and with Choi really putting himself out there physically. Yu Ji-tae also does an excellent job of playing the sadistic and baby-faced villain Woo-jin.

The characters are fully fleshed out, the cinematography gorgeous, and the soundtrack a beautiful mix of soft classical themes. While this may not be my favorite of Park’s films (Lady Vengeance holds that spot), Oldboy is a beautiful and worthy film that should be viewed by anyone who wants to see how a well-made movie is done.

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