By Claire Ala
Revenge, violence, loneliness and even incest consumes characters’ souls in the second installment of Chan Wook-Park’s Vengeance Trilogy, “Oldboy.” It is impossible to watch and not feel uncomfortable, but that’s part of the film’s allure. It’s a bizarre tale of humans deteriorating mentally and physically.
Although “Oldboy” left me feeling disgusted, it still kept me entertained. I wanted to look away, but felt compelled to see the end result. This film was a mind trip and emotionally draining. I loved it!
The plot is unrelated to “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.” Good news for the anti-subtitle viewers — it is dubbed! The story is extremely complex with more twists and turns than any roller coaster.
At times, the grotesque scenes and characters made me sick to my stomach, and personally, I have never seen a film as controversial. However, it does more than just leave the viewer with an icky feeling.
“Oldboy” has a captivating, deep and twisted story plot with oddball and complex characters. The film opens with the protagonist, Oh Dae-Su. He is intoxicated and confined at a police station. His friend bails him out. They go to a phone booth to call Oh Dae-Su’s daughter. While his friend is on the phone, Oh Dae-Su is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years.
During his imprisonment, Oh Dae-Su is put under hypnosis and has no human contact. I can’t imagine a week without human interaction, let alone over a decade. Oh Dae-Su loses touch with reality because his only connection to the outside world is an old television. He attempts to commit suicide, but his captors stop his attempts.
After suicide fails as an escape, he tries to dig through the wall. I felt Oh Dae-Su’s anger and desperation while I watched him fall apart in the old hotel room. His thoughts were focused on revenge and freedom.
In one scene, he hallucinates ants crawling all over his face and skin after he sees on the television the captors killed his wife and framed him. The room begins spinning and Oh Dae-Su shakes his head like he’s lost his mind. Even though unrealistic, I thought this scene was a great interpretation of the fall into insanity. The film also perfects manipulating transitions to different scenes by using characters’ thoughts.
The film uses flashbacks to fill in the character history, allowing the viewer to piece everything together.
It’s somewhat of an autobiography by Oh Dae-Su, and it’s an adventure to figure out why he was kidnapped. The kidnapper claims, “Revenge is the best cure.” Ironically, revenge is far from the best medicine in this story.
If you want a new, and extremely unusual movie experience, I totally recommend watching “Oldboy.”
4 out 4 friends say it was worth their time