9 May 2018

TARTAN CINEMA PRESENTS: PARK CHAN-WOOK'S 'OLDBOY.' (2003) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




TARTAN CINEMA PRESENTS PARK CHAN-WOOK'S 'OLDBOY.' (2003)
BASED ON THE JAPANESE MANGA OF THE SAME NAME BY NOBUAKI MINEGISHI AND GARON TSUCHIYA.
PART TWO OF 'THE VENGEANCE TRILOGY; PRECEDED BY 'SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE' AND FOLLOWED BY 'SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE.'
DIRECTED BY PARK-CHAN WOOK. STARRING CHOI-MIN SIK, YOO JI-TAE AND GANG HYE-JUNG.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.'

Oh wow. I had to watch this one a few times to work out all the plot twists which at first I thought were needlessly complicated, but once I understood the plot I was grand. I also realised that OLDBOY is the whatsit of Asian horror-thriller cinema, the crème de la crème of the genre, the utter and absolute zenith.

Let me see if I can encapsulate the clever storyline in a few well-chosen paragraphs, without letting slip any spoilers. It's such a brilliant film that it really should be first seen without any pre-knowledge of it whatsoever, the way I saw it myself, but I have no qualms about ladling out nice steaming helpings of pre-knowledge here in this review, lol. Grab a bowl and spoon and let's get grubbing. Tuck in, you lot. We're not fancy here.

Okay, so Korean acting legend Choi Min-sik, the Charles Bronson of Korean cinema, in fact, plays Oh Dae-su, our protagonist. Something dreadful happens to Dae-su, something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Well, maybe your worst enemy. Certainly, Dae-su seems to be someone's worst enemy, given that that someone hates him enough to do this awful thing to him.

What exactly is this awful thing that's been done to him, you ask? Well, Dae-su is abducted and imprisoned for a period of fifteen years by person or persons unknown. He's held in a sort of storage facility where others are also held, being kept there by people who have the money to pay for it.

It's a horrible idea, isn't it, that someone might hate you enough to have you locked up, outside the law, for x amount of years or until they grew tired of paying for your incarceration-to-order...? Rich guys could pay to have their enemies shut away indefinitely in true Count of Monte Cristo style and the prisoner would be able to do f**k-all about it.

Of course, you'd only pay to have someone imprisoned in this fashion if you wanted to f**k with them. (That's two effs in two sentences, I feel utterly wicked today!) Otherwise you'd just kill them, which would of course be cheaper. None of this nonsense of paying for their food and board for years and years and years and stuff.

No, the jailer of Dae-su wants him alive, for the games he (yes, it's a 'he!') wants to play with Dae-su when he releases him. He, the jailer, fully intends to f**k with his prisoner loads. (That's three effs in this piece now. Am I going to hell or what?)

While Dae-su is 'inside,' as it were, his wife is killed by his jailer and his daughter is adopted out into a Swedish family. A devastated Dae-su spends his fifteen years toughening up his mind and body. A weaker-willed man than he may not have made it through the term of unlawful imprisonment, but Dae-su is strong, mentally as well as physically.

When he finds himself back out in the world again suddenly, he's well able to look after himself. Which is just as well, as he has sworn revenge against the man who stole- yes, stole- fifteen years of Dae-su's life. This is where I have to be careful about spoilers.

Let's just say that Dae-su's anonymous jailer doesn't remain anonymous for long once Dae-su's back in circulation. The jailer thinks he's had a very good, valid reason for stealing those fifteen years from Dae-su. Here, as we say, is le deal...

If Dae-su can figure out before a certain date what that reason is, he, the jailer, will kill
himself, but if Dae-su fails to work out the reason for his incarceration, then someone else will be killed instead. Someone who's become very dear indeed to poor old Dae-su...

Clever, innit? I can't give away any more for fear of the dreaded spoilers, but I can say that you should prepare yourself for veritable lashings of violence. Sorry, there's no actual lashing in it. I've just realised that that sentence might have come across as kind of a veiled hint of whippings to come but, sadly, there's no sado-masochism or even much sex in this film at all, just tons of very violent scenes. 

There's one scene in which Dae-su takes on about twenty villains at once in a narrow corridor and it's like watching Batman or He-Man or one of those superhero lads in tights despatching a load of enemies at one go. All we're short of is the accompanying BIFF! BANG! KER-POW! and KER-PLUNK! to let us know how thorough these thrashings are.

By the way, do you like looking into peoples' mouths and seeing their teeth and tongues and tonsils and stuff? Yuk no, neither do I. I'm squeamish about stuff like that. When I watch the movie MARATHON MAN, starring Laurence Olivier, Dustin Hoffman and dear old Roy JAWS Scheider, I have to close my eyes at 'that' bit, you know which bit I mean. There's a scene in one of the later episodes of THE SOPRANOS that I can't watch either for that exact same reason. Why am I saying all this mad stuff? Oh, no reason...

There's a glamour and a sexiness about OLDBOY that really appeals to me. Choi Min-sik is probably personally responsible for most of it. He plays the strong silent type here who doesn't speak much. He's a tough guy and he gets shit done. Women automatically love that in a guy. That's what we're all looking for really, a guy who gets shit done. Sadly, Irish guys haven't struck me thus far as being terribly proactive. Dae-su is proactive. Women like that. Men everywhere, take note.

Dae-su's got a scruffy, rugged kind of unshaven sexiness about him too that makes me go weak at the knees. It's a sexiness that's as unlike the polished good looks of the jailer as chalk is from cheese. As chalk allegedly is from cheese. I'd like to know exactly who carried out these tests and where the results can be examined...?

The plot twists are excellent and watching OLDBOY is a bit like strapping yourself into a possessed rollercoaster and hanging on for dear life as it tries violently to eject you from your seat with its mad convolutions. If you need to vomit, make sure it's on the head of the person in the seat in front of you. Less mopping up for you that way. Or bring a sick-bag, what do I care? I'm not your cleaning lady, lol...




AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com










No comments:

Post a comment