3 February 2009 | LeroyBrown-2
As good and disturbing as expected.
I read the review for "Oldboy" a few years ago and have since read praise about the movie from IMDb posters. Often times movies with that kind of hype tend to fall short and is a major disappointment. I don't know anything about Korean cinema so I had fairly low expectations. I had expected it to be a simplistic revenge film, shot in bad film stock. Well I have to say that I'm glad I was wrong, and even gladder still that I actually watched this film.
The basic story is that a man named Oh Dae-Su is kidnapped and held captive for 18 years and then released. He has no idea who or why this is being done to him. While in captivity he readies himself for the day when he gets out and take revenge on those who imprisoned him, and to find out why he was imprisoned. So far it sounds just like any old revenge martial art flick and up to this point it pretty much is, but it's incredibly well crafted. I have to admit I have not paid much attention to Asian martial arts films since Bruce Lee died and maybe I should now. Mainly because this movie doesn't have the jumpy camera work, or bad editing of those old flicks. This movie is a crisply shot as any Scorcese film. That alone elevates this movie to a higher plateau.
Once he is released, Oh Dae-Su goes on a quest to find what happened to his family and to find the identity of those who had him captured. During the quest for the bad guys, the movie played out like an old fashioned detective movie. The search wasn't rushed and neither was it boring. I suppose the set up made us want to go on this quest with Oh Dae-Su which sounds like Odysseus, and just as Odysseus went on one incredible quest so did Oh Dae-Su.
It's when he finds the man who had him held captive that the movie truly departs from being an average revenge film to something that is extra ordinary and extraordinarily disturbing. It's at this point that I have to say that the less said the better. It's something totally out of the ordinary and something that I think will repulse some viewers, but at the same time one can't help have sympathy for all the characters even the man who ordered Oh's incarceration.
The acting in the movie is excellent. I had no idea that Korean cinema has such skillful actors. They all really played their part incredibly well. Min-sik Choi, who played Oh Dae-Su was incredible. He goes through the rigors of being a desperate captive, to being a determined man on a mission. Along the way he runs through the gamut of so much emotion and not once did he hit a false note.
Overall I have to say that this movie is incredibly well crafted and as good as everybody say, however I find it a little disturbing so I can't give this movie a ten. But don't let my not giving the film a ten scare you away it's a good, enjoyable film.