Old Boy

Another old review from a forum about a movie that wowed me when I first saw it and has remained compelling to watch each time I’ve come across it since then:

First off, this movie is out there. If you find a Hollywood horror tough, forget about this. It is mad, but clearly with method in it, and a lot of class. It is very intelligent as well as deranged, and moving as well as horrifying.

The plot is brilliant. It doesn’t let you down either after so much build up, and the music is wonderful, really raising the level of drama. This isn’t some petty gore movie or something freakish just for the sake of it. This has feeling and thought behind it, and the two antagonists are vile and yet not without sympathy. They are never apologised for, just explained.

You will watch this to find the answers, but at the same time will care about the whos and the whys.

I wouldn’t call this a horror movie, but it is horrifying at times, yet can be funny and moving too. For some reason Asian cinema can do all these without lessening the others; unlike a Tarantino or Ritchie movie, this isn’t a jolly violence fest, but a movie that inhabits each area naturally.
But the horror moments are really vicious, and #SPOILER# I will warn people that there is a scene where he eats a live squid, and this is actually real. Korean cinema has no problem with this, so look out. You won’t get the line ‘no living thing was harmed in the making of this movie’!

A lot of the subject matter is disturbing too, but then this movie sets out to disturb, not tantalise or make light of. Again, the topics are dealt with seriously and the outrageous moments work because they knock you back. They make the reaction of the characters that much more understandable.
This movie contains violence, sex scenes and bad language (in Korean), but again, the real things to beware are the disturbed natures of the main characters. Beware the monster.

SPOILER TALK

It is based on a manga series I should add, about a man who goes missing.
In this film, it starts with a dramatic moment, then goes back, and you see Oh Dae-Soo, who is drunk, shouting and causing trouble. Soon after he disappears, and then you see him locked up, pleading, insulting and yelling at one of his captors.
He is in a room, not a cell, and has no idea why he is there or for how long. He watches TV, has meals brought, and now and then he is gassed so they can cut his hair and tidy the room.
Unsurprisingly, he goes nuts. All he wants is to get out and get revenge. He punches a wall, writes down his sins, sees on the news that his wife was murdered, supposedly by him!

He tunnels a way out but before he can take it he is released. Again, he has no idea why or who is behind this, but now he is out, all he wants is to find them, get them, do everything he can to them.

That is the set up. Basically, it is a revenge story. This horrific thing has happened to him, he wants to know why more than anything, and goes through whoever he has to for the answers, while befriending a girl and falling in love with her. But it isn’t enough for him. He sees himself as a monster now; he doesn’t fear, just fights.

Oh, I forgot to mention something special. There is one spectacular fight scene, where he takes on what looks like twenty guys in a corridor with a hammer. It is brutal, very realistic, but was also done in one take. Not heavily edited so you can’t follow it, therefore question how he could manage this. You can track his ferocious assault as it ebbs and flows until it is done.

Like I said, it is a savage quest for an answer, but once he has it he has to have revenge too. He thirsts for payback. He has so much anger to expel it has to be unleashed. Yet there are more shocks to come. The answers he seeks are arguably worse than everything he has gone through to get them. It leaves him in such a state… Well, it has to be seen to be believed.

An intense and dynamic movie. Not easy to watch, but worth it. Definitely.

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