Review: Old Boy – Oldeuboi (2003)

Old Boy – Oldeuboi (2003)

Directed by: Park Chan-wook | 120 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yoo, Hye-jung Gang, Dae-han Chi, Dal-su Oh, Byoung-ok Kim

Main character Dae-su Oh is an underdog type man, for whom you immediately feel sympathy. Despite the fact that as the story progresses it becomes clear that he has insulted and hurt a laundry list of people in his life. In the role of Dae-su, Min-sik Choi shows the whole range of emotions that pass by when a person contemplates his life in solitude. A normal person would of course go mad under those circumstances. But whoever has Dae-su locked up benefits from this not happening. Therefore, Dae-su is unknowingly administered drugs, and is released from captivity as an apparently reasonably normal functioning human being. But what sets him apart from those around him is that he has lost everything he loved and therefore has only one goal: revenge. A killing machine is born. Choi had to train for weeks and lose a lot of kilos to play the role of Dae-su. He also did all the stunt work himself.

Director Chan-wook Park, who once graduated in philosophy and then entered the film business, made his debut in 1992 with ‘The Moon is. The Sun’s Dream’. He rose to fame with a 2001 film submitted to the Berlin Film Festival, “JSA: Joint Security Area,” a thriller set in the border region between North Korea and Park’s homeland of South Korea. Park received the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for ‘Old Boy’ this year.

What is particularly striking about ‘Old Boy’ is the apparent carelessness with which atrocities and violence are portrayed. This is emphasized by the use of classical music in scenes where the blood almost splashes off the screen. The more extreme the violence, the more overwhelming the accompanying music.

‘Old Boy’ is the kind of movie that captivates from the first to the last minute. Director Chan-wook Park overwhelms the viewer with images of extreme violence that are interspersed with moments of reflection. But there is no time to really recover, because the main character Dae-su ends up from one extremely unpleasant situation into another. The pace is good throughout the film, without the story being superficial. A great performance by both the director and the actors.

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