Oldboy (2003) – The World Laughs with You

Choi Min-sik as Oh Dae-su is a middle-aged drunk man and troublemaker. He got a bad experience after he was inside the police station because of his drunkenness. In the night when his friend wanted to wish Dae-su’s daughter a happy birthday, he disappeared. The bad experience he got was never imagined by anyone. Suddenly, he was held in a room by several mysterious people. In the 15 years that he went through, every night, he only listened to music and the valium gas was released causing him to faint. Television is his only friend. He knows all the events, dates, months and years through television. Suddenly, he watches a story where Dae-su’s fingerprints are found along with his wife’s murder.

The same things continue to happen over and over for years make him bored. He ate the same food every day. One time, a woman appeared and did a suggestion to Dae-su. After 15 years, finally, he was free. But, it’s not that easy. Dae-su goes to a sushi restaurant and starts his introduction to a young chef girl, Kang Hye-jeong as Mi-do. He initially knew the chef because he often saw her on television. After eating a portion of “live” food, Mi-do reads a diary written by Dae-su during his confinement. Mi-do is finally touched and believes in Dae-su while finding out who has been holding him.

I’m not one of the Korean movies fan, especially Asian drama. My enthusiasm was so high about the influence on Hollywood while watching this film. “Oldboy” is a very, I mean, very good film from any angle. The audience continues to be excited about the storyline. The ending is just freaking me out with such an unexpected twist. Most Hollywood movies, especially thrillers, are often modifying concepts like this. Given this Korean movie, Park Chan-wook is the director of many who has succeeded beyond the level.

“Oldboy” also feels like watching David Fincher’s “Se7en”. A similar format about crime, mystery, suspense, and thriller. But, it’s all about the psychopath. The psychopath makes the victim or protagonist face two very difficult choices. Both choices forced him to do it but with such high consequences. Dae-su openly wants to do his 15-year revenge. But that will make him lose. His curiosity appeared and turned into the psychopath’s counter-attack. He keeps thinking about how he can finish this psychopath’s game. Or, how can he get out of the game? On the other hand, such high curiosity made him keep thinking why. A trap on two sides of the same coin.

The development character is just really great as it comes. The first opening scene starts with something intriguing yet interesting. We’re looking at a man with nothing. He tried to interrogate someone who wanted to commit suicide but introduced himself in a unique way. And then, the movie cut out into Dae-su before 15 years. From here, we are so curious. What transformation makes him want to take revenge? You come with a drunk useless man with silly angel wings into a psychopathic man with no sympathy. Transitions between scenes are so special. Supported by captivating cinematography for a Korean movie.

This is a movie with a very great passion. The directors, the actors, the writers, all of them have strong intentions in making this film. As it said, this is a movie with a lot of whole memorable scenes. The development of Dae-su is so terrifying from a drunk man becomes a man with revenge. It’s one of the greatest things in this movie. He lives through daily lives with a sense of boredom, masturbation, punching the wall until his hands bleed, and the first time tasting “the world”.

On the other hand, there is Mi-do, a young and talented girl who takes this man into her life. The chemistry between the two characters is so strong and great. Dae-su who was originally someone who wanted to find the psychopath finally opened his heart because of Mi-do. Both of them undergo a love, together with take a redemption, and salvation.

There are no such things if you’ve never watched this film, not the Spike Lee remake. The point of this movie is from a mystery into a tragedy. But, there are so many twists contains a lot. So many clues that the character gets. An amazing sequence, which reminds me of “The Raid”, is the corridor scene. I mean, it’s one of our favorite things if you want to talk about this movie. The camera movements work very well. The one-shot is really intriguing and gorgeous. The choreography as if they put a lot of stakes and consequences. You’re fighting a man with revenge. Infinitely, a driven person who eats you alive. And by the way, I also like the title sequence.

“Oldboy” providing a deep element and complexity from a transformation of the character’s amazing personality. The ending is just one of the best things with ambiguous elements, natural yet happy ending but not. We need thrillers like this or even more than this. So many thrillers are stuck or even more than a thriller that is just an action movie or something else. But, “Oldboy” has its own passion, purpose, and violent as well. The music is phenomenal, the actors, the director, the writer, all of them have a pretty great job.

5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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