Entertainment Magazine

Oldboy [2003]: Almost Impossible to Imitate

Posted on the 17 April 2014 by Rukhaiyaaramrit
A drunken man [Oh Dae-Su] is arrested by the police. His friend bails him out and when this friend was making a telephone call, the man disappears only to wake up in a place that looked like a cheap hotel room. Little did he know that, he will be in that room for the next 15 years, day in, day out? 
Oldboy tells the story of that man.
Time and again, a little tune plays and the room is filled with some kind of gas so as to faint him. He wakes up and notices that the room has been cleaned, his clothes have been changed and his hair and beard has been trimmed. This same routine goes for 15 years.
He doesn’t know who imprisoned him and why. There is a TV in the room being the only source of new information for him. There is a desk with a pen and a journal, he writes, finishing journals one after another. Through TV, he finds out that his wife has been murdered and his fingerprints and blood were found at the place of the crime. Thus he has been framed for the murder of her wife. He also found out from TV only that his little daughter is adopted in Sweden.
Oldboy [2003]: Almost impossible to imitate
TV taught him everything, the martial art, the tragedies of the world and the fact that the world is racing ahead at a great pace. And then one day he has been released; he became unconscious after that regular tune and the gas and wakes up in a Red box only to realize that he is not in that room anymore and that the city where he was taken from has become faster than ever.
His abductor left some cash in his court pocket and a cellphone, intentionally leaving him resourced so that he could survive and find; who did it and why? 
Now this is half the plot, the other half is even more complex, devastating and shows you the truest colors of revenge and vengeance.
Upon being free, he meets a young woman who he saw on the TV as Korea’s Chef of the year. This young woman is Mido. They talk and she comes to know of all he has gone through, she sympathizes with him, cares for him and falls in love with him.
When Oh Dae-su was abducted, for 15 years, he was only fed pot stickers, which is why its taste was imprinted on his memory. With the help of Mido, he visits every restaurant in the city and orders Pot Stickers so as to recognize the same taste, in order to find a trail to his abductor.
In an important scene, when Oh Dae-Su fights with more than 25 of his previous jailers with just a hammer in his hands. In this scene, more than a two dozen men are blocking his way to get him out of a building and because he is so occupied by revenge, he doesn’t even slow down after somebody injected a knife on his back.
In another brilliant scene, Oh went into a restaurant and asks “I want to eat something that is alive.” This shows his starvation is for life and not the food, considering the fact that he has not seen one living person in the last 15 years.
When the film started, Oh Dae-su was a good man who got drunk because he couldn't be with her little daughter on her birthday, and these 15 years made him a hardened vindictive man who reacts weirdly against emotional actions or any other act of kindness towards him.
Once Oh Dae-su finally confronts his abductor, there are some shocking revelations that unfold one after another. These revelations affect the viewers emotionally and mentally. They are shocking and deep. 
All the three performances were class apart, the prisoner Oh Dae-Su [Min-sik Choi], the chef Mido [Hye-jeong Kang] and the abductor Woo-jin Lee [Ji-tae Yu]. 
Oldboy is a harsh film that offers no sympathy, leaves you devastated for what you watched and at the end make you have pity on the characters. This is a film which will be respected even after 50 years from now. Director Chan-wook Park has made something even he will find difficult to imitate. 
This is why I hated the idea of its remake, but Spike Lee remade it and failed miserably. Some films should never be remade, tampered or even touched but only be respected for its existence.
Movie Geek’s Rating: ★★★★★
Cast: Min-sik Choi, Hye-jeong Kang, Ji-tae Yu
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Author: Amritt Rukhaiyaar
[This post is a part of the A to Z Challenge in April 2014. Let's celebrate blogging.]

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