올드보이/Oldboy

[Screenshot]I took a look at this mostly to see Kang Hye-Jeong again, since she was brilliant in Welcome to Dongmakgol; also, I’d heard its name around, so I got the impression it was a classic. It is, in its own limited way, a film of significance: it fits into a logical twenty-first century cinematic styple which I mostly think of as Tarantino-space (my first thought: “Quentin Tarantino must’ve loved this film” as indeed he did; my second: “Adam Cadre would probably hate it”, which I don’t think has been definitely answered). It is extremely, viscerally violent, and manages to be extremely discomfort-inducing despite comparatively mild on-screen squick. The violence and cinematography left me colkd: the former just ’cause I don’t get into it, the latter because what I think were supposed to be really effective bits just seemed muddled to me: there’s a famous fight scene shot without cuts, from the side, but it just ended up confusing and overlong: Oh Daesu kicks, hits people with hammers, get dogpiled, pushes everyone off of himself, and starts all over again. It seemed frankly rather tedious.

Psychologically, though, this works quite well. The cat-and-mouse aspects are powerful, and the motivations for both Woojin and Daesu are believable and keep the film taut. I was favorably impressed by a particular dialouge fragment: Daesu calls foul on Woojin for hypnotizing him to forget a critical piece of history. Woojin’s response? “I didn’t brainwash you. You just forgot.” It works, really. It’s the central event of Woojin’s life, and was basically an inconsequential little scene to Daesu. That actually works for me: underplaying the momentous is really what makes this work.

But, oy, God, is it ever a nasty little story. This is a cruel little tale, not particularly hopeful unless you care to be optimistic about the last five minutes.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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