Oldboy (1993) - Warning: viewing may lead to intense cinematic experience
| These days intensity seems to be the latest cool thing. Movie makers seem to be ratcheting up the thrills, violence and gore in movies to shock and awe their audiences into buying more tickets. However, for me, most often this so called intensity seems phoney and leaves me feeling unimpressed.
Sin City, for example, is a film where the so called intensity is really high. Yet I felt that the movie was all style and no depth. I never bought into it, or more accurately, it never really impacted me. That's why seeing Oldboy, the Korean gangster revenge flick from Chan-wook Park, is such a refreshing kick in the groin.
Oldboy is the story of a man who was taken off the streets one night and kept in a windowless room for 15 years. Upon being released, his life and his world are gone. He begins a quest to discover who did this to him and why. He then plans to kill them for it.
It is true that the violence is intense, however movie violence is like reality TV; it's everywhere but most of it sucks. What really makes this movie intense is the story. This story will devastate you. I won't say anything further as to ruin the intricacies of the plot. Just be warned that this movie makes films like Sin City and Kill Bill look like Saturday morning cartoons. Be warned that this is not for the weak at heart.
Oldboy manages to wrench its audience like nothing I have seen in many years. The violence is brutal and not in the slick choreographed way that is so popular today. However it's the relationships between the characters and the things they do to each other that is the most devastating. A smart script and nuanced performances are what give this baby its power, and what power it does have.
It's hard for me to imagine being more moved by another film this year. See Oldboy and you will understand. Just remember, you've been warned.