movie film review | chris tookey

Oldboy/ Old Boy

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  Oldboy/ Old Boy Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
7.50 /10
Choi Min-sik , Yu Ji-Tae, Kang Hye-jeong

Directed by: Chanwook Park
Written by: Hwang Jo-yun, Lim Chun-hyeong, Park Chan-wook, based on a manga comic strip by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi

Released: 2003
Origin: Korea
Colour: C
Length: 120

A kidnap victim Dae-su (Choi Min-sik, pictured right) seeks revenge after being locked up for 15 years by an anonymous enemy.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Oldboy contains the expected ingredients of Korean “extreme cinema” – an incoherent storyline, acting that swings between the deadpan and the hysterically melodramatic, and characters so blank that it's hard to feel anything for them.

There’s plenty of the obligatory nastiness too – tongue-slitting, skull-hammering, dental torture and (worst of all) the consumption on camera of a live, wriggling octopus.

If your gag reflex can survive such excesses – it’s easy to see Quentin Tarantino’s influence on this winning the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival - there’s a reasonably ingenious denouement, centred on brother-sister incest, that is reminiscent of 17th century Jacobean revenge drama at its crudest.

Oldboy has moments of shock and erotic tension, and director Chanwook Park displays the visual flair that won him admirers among the pseudo-sophisticated for his Seeking Mr Vengeance; but I found it a very long, hard slog, bringing no emotional reward.

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