Movie News

Anghus loses it all for OLDBOY, a film of genius, at BNAT 5!

Published at: Dec. 9, 2003, 2:56 p.m. CST by staff

Hey folks, Harry here... Nothing anyone can say will really prepare you for the work of Chan Wook Park. He's the greatest unknown international filmmaker working today. He is a genius and the films coming from Korea are exceptional, with his being as great as Friedkin or Scorsese or Polanski at their very best. I say that without flinching in the least. Light years better than any contemporary set film in the United States this year or... for many years. If you love GREAT CINEMA, find this movie and put in the teeth guard, cuz it'll knock your teeth out!

Old Boy

It’s difficult to explain BNAT. Believe me, I’ve had people try for the last 4 years, and the words barely do it justice. It’s a geek cuisinart, obsessively programmed with moments to make you laugh, moments to make you cheer, and most importantly providing films that challenge the audience.

And while there were some amazing films (Passion of Christ, Return of the King, The General), there was one movie that stood out from the pack. An engaging, flawless film that successfully pushes all the right buttons.

I had heard many things about Chan-wook Park. Mostly from Aint it Cool regulars. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance was widely discussed last year, but I never got around to seeing it. I’m now kicking myself for not seeking it out earlier. OldBoy is the kind of film that makes you want to seek out other work by the filmmaker, like the first time I saw North by Northwest when I was 12, and have never heard of Alfred Hitchcock. You feel an urge to find more works by the filmmaker and watch them as soon as you can.

OldBoy is that kind of movie. A surprise in every way.

The opening is so simple. A man is kidnapped and held against his will for 15 years, the solitude slowly driving him mad. There is little exposition or backstory. Park instead hits the ground running and lets the story unfold to the audience as it unfolds to the lead character, Oh Dae-Su (played brilliantly by Min-sik Choi). And what a story it is.

Oh, don’t think I’m delving too deep into the plot. This is a movie to be discovered, enjoyed, and digested. To give away too much of the story would be a disservice to anyone who seeks this film out, and for the record, that should be every self respecting fan of film.

At the core, OldBoy is a revenge flick. A violent, sprwaling epic that delves into the mind of a man who has been wronged, and his painstaking tribulations to see the game come to an end. Park puts his protagonist through a series of grueling tasks, a chess game orchestrated by a man he doesn’t know, Lee Woo Jin (chillingly played by Ji-tae Yu). This isn’t one of those movies with the villain revealed in the last 5 minutes, with a nice and tidy summation of the reasons for his actions. Park reveals his antagonist early on and lets Oh Dae Su struggle the entire movie with who he is, and why he has spent 15 years torturing him.

Park is a deft director, able to convey scenes of raw emotion, raw fury, and pure pain. The characters of OldBoy are tragic and flawed, and it is what makes this film so damn compelling. Park is unflinching, showing the moments where most filmmakers would look the other way. When Oh Dae Sue tortures an employee by pulling his teeth with a claw hammer, Park shows it (And holy shit was it painful to watch). When Oh Dae-Su is attacked soon after by a dozen thugs, with only the same claw hammer to fend them off, he shows it all. But not in a chopsocky traditional fight sequence, rather in a nice medium one shot. There’s something satisfying about a movie that takes so many chances and pulls most of them off. There were so many places where this film could have gone wrong. So many times where the controversial material could have overplayed. The kind of twists and plot turns that could derail a filmmaker of lesser ability. Park came out swinging, like Oh Dae-su with a claw hammer.

But truly, this is a film where all the cylinders were firing. An amazing cast, a deft director, engaging cinematography, and an amazing script.

This movie deserves an audience.

Readers Talkback

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  • Dec. 9, 2003, 2:57 p.m. CST

    First?

    by Bob of the Shire

    And what's it matter?

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Ok, we get it

    by slacker

    Old Boy rocks. Greatest movie ever. Right. Okay. Now quit driving it down our throats.

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 3:05 p.m. CST

    It matters if you like great cinema

    by Fearsme

    What? You wanted another Return of the King review?

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Let him do what He wants

    by Circus Freak

    You said it. It's "HIS" festival so he can post as many as review as he wants as far as I am concerned. When you have your own festival you will decide what to post, until then Harry will decide. Anyway I had never heard of Oldboy and teenage Mother before and I would have probably never had if it wasn't for BNAT. And I didn't what great movie t look after LOTR : ROTK comes out, now I know THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 4:30 p.m. CST

    It's HIS Site - So Shut Up!

    by hipcheck13

    Yeah, Harry gets on my nerves too, but shit, it's HIS site. Go someplace else if you don't want to read about BNAT. There's CHUD (great site), Dark Horizons, Coming Attractions, etc.

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Thanks

    by Fuzhi

    alot for the review - Oldboy is probably one of the movies I look most forward to seeing. After seeing both Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Joint Security Area it seems like Chan-wook Park can do no wrong.

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Help

    by PumpyMcAss

    If Chan-Wook Park is as great as everyone says he is, we need more info on how to get ahold of his work. Harry?

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 6:03 p.m. CST

    his last two movies can be bought here

    by Fuzhi

    Joint Security Area to $9 including shipping http://www.ethaicd.com/show.php?pid=9789 Sympathy for mr vengeance is a bit harder to get a hold on, it can be bought here though http://www.hkflix.com/xq/asp/filmID.2745/qx/details.htm Im sure that both the movies can be found on several other asian movie retailers though. If anybody know where the first two movies he wrote, Humanist, The (2000) and Anarchists (2000), can be bought please post it here. Thanks

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 6:17 p.m. CST

    nevermind

    by Fuzhi

    my last question - I would have sworn I had searched for em before there - but both can also be bought at HKflix.

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 8:59 p.m. CST

    Envy

    by Who Dini

    Jesus, what a bunch of sore losers. I didn't bother to sign up for BNAT. After seeing this lineup, I really wish I had even though it would have meant spending my meager savings on the trip. You can rest assured, if I had been in attendence, sat anywhere NEAR PJ, Mel, etc... I'd be right there with every other lucky asshole that got an invite: verbal masturbation and gloating through my two cents of a review. I'm positive this has been mentioned before, but believe it or not there is something called free will. Exercise yours and click on another link or type in a different URL so that you dont have to be the martyr you think you are by reading these reviews.

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 10:05 p.m. CST

    Doesn't matter how great OLD BOY is. You won't see it for anothe

    by Balaabaribibo

    http://alliance.hellninjacommando.net/

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 10:31 p.m. CST

    Chizzled Hard

    by lakerfan32

    www.chizzledhard.com

  • Dec. 9, 2003, 11:49 p.m. CST

    Did a review of Vengeance and JSA...

    by The Gline

    http://www.thegline.com/dvd-of-the-week/2002/08-12-2002.htm and http://www.thegline.com/dvd-of-the-week/2003/02-22-2003.htm -- Both are outstanding.

  • Dec. 10, 2003, 5:09 a.m. CST

    JSA sucks!!!

    by godoffireinhell

    I watched it after being very impresseb by SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and it fell totally flat. Some brilliant visuals but I didn't care one bit for any of the characters and the political issues bored me. Maybe the reason SYMPATHY worked better for is that it's more universal in its story and message. It could happen anywhere. The same seems to be true for OLDBOY ...

  • Dec. 10, 2003, 12:53 p.m. CST

    If you want great movie reviews and up to the minute film indust

    by Sith Lord Byron

    Not that you'll get those there, but you will get to read blog after blog of bitching about how THEY don't get them from AICN.

  • Dec. 10, 2003, 11:55 p.m. CST

    The guy that comes up with the next "hogan" or "beanople" crack

    by themaestro

  • Dec. 11, 2003, 1:19 a.m. CST

    I'M SURE BUTT NUMATON WAS SPECTACULAR... BUT WHY ARE YOU GUYS SO

    by TheGinger Twit

  • Dec. 11, 2003, 3:10 a.m. CST

    I saw the movie in Korea

    by hahahahaha

    on the very first day. ^_______^ I expected to seeing this movie sooooooooooo much since I had heard of it.And it satisfied me more than my expectation. One of the most powerful element in this movie is the secret why Woo Jin Lee locked Dae Soo.That's why the film makers struggled to cover its story and I really urge you not to try to know more than I tell you.However,after knowing all the plots for my reckless curiosity which drove me to seek through the homepage,I appreciated it a lot.It has more than just shocking story,but deep implication about human nature rather like myths.So I do recommend to see it more than twice,for you can't fully understand its deep meaning overwhelmed with its shocking ending,if you see it only one time. There's one tip with you can appreciate it more.At the first sequence,Dae Soo Oh appears with a guy who was about to kill himself with his dog.The movie doesn't show the reason of suicide.However,he was originally set up to be found out to sex with the dog and decide suicide according to the director's interview.For now you don't know why I'm telling this,but you will thank me a lot sooner or later. Everything was damn cool! The all actors and actresses did great jobs and were so lovely,even the bad guys.Especially,Min Sik Choi's voice was killing me sofly (He narrated throughout the movie) I've known him about 15 years, but it's the first time I found him so attractive.Even his a little fat stomach(compared to other young actors,but not for his age!!) seemed so cute ^^; The director stressed the difference of OldBoy from Sympathy~ saying that its style is excessiveness.That's why it earned much more money than Sympathy.

  • Dec. 13, 2003, 12:14 p.m. CST

    [OLDBOY] http://www.oldboy2003.co.kr

    by amrita36

    [OLDBOY] Information http://www.oldboy2003.co.kr THE KOREA TIMES Dark and moody like a nightmare waiting to occur, these moments in the hotel room are some of the best in the film. The scenes, in whichPark uses a collage of images to set the mood, play out like a Kafkastory, with Oh unsuccessfully trying to come up with a rational reason for his plight. An expert on personifying tragedy, Choi is at hisangst-filled best portraying a man on the edge of madness. Oh is determined to one day find a way out of his cell and exact revenge on those responsible. Between bouts of madness, he trains himself in the art of fighting, punching the walls until thick calluses envelop his knuckles. Unfortunately, when Oh finally escapes and begins tracking down hisenemy (Yoo Ji-tae), the film gets to feel a bit muddled. Perhaps it

  • Feb. 24, 2004, 4:05 a.m. CST

    I watched it

    by yomina

    I am not sure I can explain how I felt after watching this movie. The movie is not the kinds of film I like. (I am the kind of a person who avoids slasher/scary movie. My favorate movie is "the sound of the music") I knew what will happen in the end before I watched it (Thanks to the spoiler). Nevertheless, it was a shocking film. It is not the plot they used. I do not like the plot that they used (at all. I kinda sensed machoism in there). The story clearly makes sense and is complete by itself. BGMs are great(I am still listening the music in my head). I expected that I will be upset after watching this movie. Instead I felt sad....

  • Feb. 24, 2004, 6:03 a.m. CST

    Me again

    by yomina

    I can not stop thinking about this film so i write again. I think this movie is half comedy - half tragedy. O Dae-su is a clown from the begining, so he tragedy becomes a comedy...over time, he gain strength from the 15 bitter yrs...so he becomes a monster. Ironically, he gains dignity while he transform himself into a monster. Then he becomes a dog again...this part is a tragedy... i do not think hthe fact he was prisoned for 15 yrs was the tragedy...i think the fact he had to give up his established revenge was the tragedy....i need to stop thinking about this movie and go back to sleep.