Korean Movie: Oldboy 올드보이 (2003)

So, R and C gave me a movie to watch the other day, named 올드보이. It’s more commonly known by its English name, Oldboy, not that it makes a difference since you read the Korean as “Oeldboi” (one wrote Oldeuboi, but I’m just writing it how I would pronounce it haha)

They both told me to watch it since it wasn’t gory or disgusting or anything, but twisted as in Japanese twisted.

Upon researching it, it was originally based on a manga, so it is Japanese twisted – it just happened to be that the Koreans decided to turn it into a movie.

Oldboy is a cult movie. As in, it sort of falls into the horror genre, but it’s more of a psychological thriller.

 Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldboy if you want all the spoilers in the synopsis

It was quite an easy and intriguing watch, but some parts were quite hard to watch. If you’re not a fan of torture, this might not be in it for you. You don’t really see anything, but just the acting, the mise en scene and the music – everything… my Gosh, I had to actually cover my eyes even though I knew I wasn’t going to see anything. I think this is the first time I’ve had to do that, but then I haven’t really seen many cult movies in the past, if any at all, really. I’ve read cult manga, but I would cover my mouth.

Anyway, a brief synopsis – a man named Oh Daesu is at the police station after being drunk. His friend bails him out, and it’s his daughter’s birthday. While at a telephone booth, Daesu gives the phone to his friend. When Daesu’s wife is on the line asking for Daesu, the friend realises that Daesu had disappeared, only leaving behind his daughter’s birthday present on the ground.

Daesu finds himself locked up in a rather seedy hotel room with a prison door with just a small opening for meals. He is constantly drugged, and whilst he is drugged, people come in to give him drugs and clean the place. He doesn’t know why he is locked up, and doesn’t know who did it. He ends up locked in the room for 15 years, using a television as his calendar and source of knowledge. He trains himself to fight and uses the television’s knowledge to learn about the world (he later could identity species of fish in a fish tank from this) and finally he is released.

When he is released, he is given a cell phone and a wallet filled with money by a homeless man, and enters a sushi restaurant, where he meets an attractive young chef named Mido, who later becomes his romantic acquaintance. He learns from a phone call that he is now placed into a treasure hunting sort of game. The game is to find out the reason why he was imprisoned for 15 years. If he finds out the reason, his capturer, Lee Woo Jin will kill himself (via a remote control said to be able to stop a pacemaker inserted into his chest). If Daesu fails to find out the reason, Mido will be killed. Daesu is given 5 days, an extra 100 000 Won (approximately $100AUD) and is given hints along the way.

Throughout this process, Daesu finds himself in a complex web of violence and a lot of memory seeking. The scene edits are quite smooth and compelling, as he chases after his memories when he was young.

I’ll end here or else I’ll be giving away the whole story, but whilst the story was quite disturbing and compelling, I quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately, there was something that I felt was a little too obvious from the start (I don’t know why, but I kind of saw through the identity of one of the characters). The scenes where Daesu was in pain really blew me away because it was just so chilling. The editting really made the whole feel of the movie really dark and sinister, and I felt that that aspect was really well done.

I’d recommend it – it’s quite a dark movie, but it’s really worth a watch – I enjoyed it more than I expected I would. Just a note on the rating though, it’s definitely MA15+ or I’d even give it an R rating. There’s a lot of blood and disturbing things in this movie, as well as a very realistic bed scene which was uncalled for, but well, necessary (this is why I’d probably say an R rating, but then again, there are so many M rated movies that probably would have scenes like that – Starship Troopers is one from the top of my head, and I don’t even think it was necessary cept for the fact that it was in the heat of the moment and they possibly were going to die – hmm). The movie really does unravel the secrets of the human mind and the evil that goes behind the mind. It’s about unravelling these secrets and seeing how evil they are – and what people are willing to do to hide secrets or to reveal them. It’s also about revenge, morality and romance. Thrilling stuff.

Here’s a trailer if interested. I’m putting up a trailer that someone on Youtube made. It’s quite good compared to the other one I saw, so this will have to do 🙂

PS: Supposedly, Spielberg was going to direct an American adaptation of this and Will Smith expressed interest playing Daesu’s role. Oh come on! If you watch the Korean version and think about Choi Min Sik as Oh Daesu and then compare it to Will Smith, it won’t make any sense at all. Any American actor will feel quite disturbed at the mentality of the protagonist in this – I can’t even imagine who will play Lee Woo Jin’s part – that character is HELLA evil! Well, for now, I’m hoping they either do a really good job or don’t do it at all. If they do, I’ll look foward to seeing Will Smith either lose weight for this (in the movie, Daesu actually is quite fat and then trains in 15 years – he actually did train himself for the movie and lose weight), and eat a whole octopus. Live. But they weren’t going to do that, because they expressed interest in adapting the manga, and not the Korean film. Anyway, Wiki says the project is dead, so in a way that’s maybe for the better?

PPS: The girl who plays Mido is married to Tablo of Epik High. OMG!

I found out there was a Bollywood version of this named Zinda – @_@ Wow. Well it was similar, just 14 years and 4 days to find out. LULZ.

Until next blog!

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