NewsLetter DailyWeekly
My HanCinema | Sign up, Why ? Your E-mail   Password    Auto| Help
HanCinema :: The Korean Movie and Drama Database, discover the South Korean cinema and drama diversity Contact HanCinema HanCinema on TwitterFaceBook HanCinema PageHanCinema on Twitter

'Old Boy' shows off new tricks

2003/11/19 Source

In director Park Chan-wook's latest brooding opus, the theme of vengeance is back with ... well, a vengeance. In a departure from his hauntingly restrained "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", his new film "Old Boy" opening this Friday thrashes wildly in visual and emotional excesses like the god of vengeance gone mad.

The result is an eye-popping, blood-soaked and wickedly inventive mystery thriller that revels in the sheer sport of filmmaking. What it ultimately adds up to, of course, is another question.

In the film, Choi Min-sik plays loudmouthed drunk Oh Dae-su, who is kidnapped and confined in a run-down motel room. For the next 15 years, he seethes in his cell, watching television during the day and dreaming of revenge at night, all while not knowing who took him prisoner or why.

When he is released, he chances on a young woman (Kang Hye-jung) in a Japanese restaurant. The pair follows the clues of the crime, eventually leading to a suave entrepreneur (Yoo Ji-tae), who proposes to kill himself if Oh Dae-su can figure out why he was locked up.

Based on a Japanese comic book, the film refashions the details and rewrites the ending to pack a shocking punch, constructing a completely different tale more in line with the director's penchant for inexorable tragedy.

If "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" forced the viewers to squirm quietly in their seats, "Old Boy" mounts a frontal assault, giving them no time to breathe. Style bursts like green and scarlet lava to color the screen with a mood of modern noir. Music thumps constantly while box office-conscious humor keeps the narrative flowing. Even Choi looks groovy with a Jun In-kwon hairdo.

Of course, it all leads to the big secret of why Oh Dae-su was taken prisoner that had the film's publicity staff calling reporters after the screening to ask them to not reveal the ending. It may be confirmed, at least, that the path of revenge spirals toward inevitable tragedy on a massive, Greek scale.

Toward its finale, the film is like Hercules gone mad, wildly swinging an axe in all directions to carve up allusions to Greek mythology. The big secret is contained in a little box like Pandora's, and in a cute Oedipal moment, Oh Dae-su cuts off his tongue that was the source of his troubles instead of gouging out his eyes.

However, one must hesitate to call "Old Boy" a great work as some critics have done. For all its power to captivate the viewers, something about the film is a bit too comic book-like on second thought to offer any serious insights about human nature.

It is also impossible to avoid the feeling that the big secret is a rather sensitive matter that was used simply for shock value.

"Old Boy" is a mesmerizing experience but not quite the moving one that it wants to be. With an ounce of restraint, perhaps that fact would have been less obvious.

Nevertheless, the film is a virtuoso exercise of style from an increasingly confident director. It doesn't quite have the depth it pretends, but it doesn't need depth to be a terrific mystery thriller.

By Kim Jin

Source :

Copy & paste guideline for this article
Always put a link back to the source and HanCinema permalink

Creative Commons License"'Old Boy' shows off new tricks"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work from this source

Attention You're reading the news with potential spoilers, make them spoiler free, dismiss



 Previous news
  • Memories of Murder wins Critics Choice Awards
    2003/11/19 (Source)
    Director BONG Joon-ho's acclaimed Memories of Murder was the big winner at the 23rd Critics Choice Awards, held on November 13. The film was presented with the Best Picture, Best Director (BONG Joon-ho) and Best Actor (SONG Kang-ho) awards. The award ceremony is presented each year by the Korean Fil,...More

  • "There Is No Scenario... Just as in Our Life"
    2003/11/18 (Source)
    "Low Life".
    This is the movie that Director Im Kwon-taek is working on now who has achieved a long-sought desire of the Korean filming industry by winning the Director's Award at the Cannes Film Festival last year with "Chihwaseon". The movie is his 99th work since his first movie, "Farewell Dooma,...

  • Director Brings Hit Play to Big Screen
    2003/11/16 (Source)
    Having written over 40 plays and film scripts, Lee Yoon-taek is one of the most successful playwrights and stage directors in the nation. So he didn't think he would have too much of a problem making his most popular play into a movie.

    But Lee found out the hard way that this wasn't the case. Th,...

Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$0.99 monthly or US$7.99 yearly (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up.


Remove ads

Sign up




Visible, hide

Learn to read Korean in 90 minutes or less using visual associations

About | Privacy policy | Contact | Partners

Mobile version