Local movie theater’s doing a Noir-vember, and so tonight we went out to see Oldboy.
OH. MY. GOD.
It was a good movie, sure, but HOLY **** it was BRUTAL!!
A man named Dae-su gets randomly abducted off the street one drunken night and is imprisoned, drugged, and hypnotized in an isolated apartment room for 15 years, before being suddenly released, but teased with the allure of tracking down his captor. So, he must seek vengeance for the life he’s lost, and question he has: “Why?”
I like the complexity of it. The plot and its mysteries slowly unravelled, and you got more and more of the Really Big Picture. It is an ugly, ugly truth that gets revealed by the end, with three twists (to me) in the film to boot!
It’s definitely got a heavy noir aesthetic in the script. The somber voice-overs, the main character who can’t keep it all together, the dark nights and seedy underbelly of the city, and the brutality of the violence. Oh jeez there’s one scene that involves teeth and it’s bone-wriggling.
Also unflinching sex scenes played out in full and gratuitous boob-shot
The subject matter of, well, the main mystery is also extremely dark and layered too.
Some spoilers if I’m gonna reveal what, but this film deals with some serious (consensual?) incest, body mutilation, mind-breaking trauma, extremely devious manupulation, and heavy paranoia.
I’ve read that Spike Lee made an adaptation of this film with Josh Brolin, but I’m not sure if all that would get adapted (or accepted by american audiences)
Very very big ending spoilers here
So, the climactic ending, whoaaa.
My jaw will never recover from this series of events. Never have I seen a film get so layered with its story…
When it’s revealed that Woo-jin had incest with his sister, big twist. Then that Dae-su started the rumours that caused her suicide, even crazier twist, especially in that Woo-jin played such a long psychopathic game to get back at him.
But no!! That couldn’t be it! No! Turns out they also manupulated and hypnotized Dae and Mido to get together, and believing to be total strangers, hook up and fall in love! But as it turns out, Mido is his long lost daughter who went into foster care after his disappearance!
AND ITS NOT OVER YET! No, at this point, threatened with the idea of Mido finding out, Dae-su breaks down into a sniveling, groveling mess, anx cuts his own tongue off.
And when given the chance to kill the big bad by turning his pacemaker off, that was a trap as well, as Woo-jin leaves as a tape recorder turns on, playing the sounds of sex between Dae-su and Mido. OH MY GOD AHHHHH WTF.
And in the very very end, its revealed that Dae-su goes under memory-suppression hypnosis to forget everything about the revelation to continue to live with Mido, (and also protect her from the truth?) And the implications that remain with that are… uhhhh yikes whoa.
So, uh, yeah, very good, well-written film, but is much more heavy in its subject matter than I’ve ever seen.
Action fights were very cool too especially the one-shot hallway fight. There are also some great match-cuts with characters faces in this movie. Classical music and Score music are used to great effect in intense scenes.
I also learned that the game Sifu took serious inspiration from this film in many ways:
One room in the first level goes horizontal-side-scrolly vs. A room of bad guys with sticks. Cool reference.
I think there’s also a bonus costume you can unlock that looks like the suit Dae-su wore at the penthouse.
There’s a line at the end of the movie that is way too close to be a coincidence. It’s almost literally the death mechanic in the game.
“Each step he takes will age him up one year. When he reaches 70, he will die.”
Each game death exponentially raises your age by one, and 70 is the point of no return, where you die. Cool!