Saturday, August 6, 2011
In what is certainly the best of his vengeance trilogy, Park Chan Wook crafted the ultimate suspense thriller in Oldboy. From the film’s tagline alone (“15 years of imprisonment, 5 days of vengeance.”) you know that you’re in for one hell of a ride…and if this is your assertion upon discovering this extreme masterpiece, then you will not be disappointed.
Oh-Dae Sue is an ordinary businessman who disappears after a night of drunken buffoonery into a private prison that becomes his own personal hell. Madness, attempted suicide, aggressive training, television and solitude are his only activities for 15 years. Then, one day, he is spontaneously released and taunted by his former warden into discovering the truth for himself. Hardened and thirsty for blood, the new Dae Sue maims, tortures and kills his way to satisfaction in hopes of finding the reason behind it all, the cause that created the monster he has become.
Park Chan Wook’s playful direction and writing for the grim subject matter on display is part of what makes Oldboy so much fun. The abrupt shifting of gears puts the viewers at such ill ease that they never quite know what to expect. Add to this the fantastic performances of the three leads: Choi Min Sik as the mad protagonist, Ji-Tae Yu as the devious, secretive villain, and Hye-Jeong Kang as the adorable love interest with a secret even she doesn’t know.
Not for the faint of heart (or the weak of stomach for that matter), Oldboy is a very grueling watch emotionally as well as psychologically but none of that should deter you from giving it a chance as it’s one of the best thrillers since Hitchcock.