Ji-tae Yu

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Oldboy Review


Extraordinary
What can you say about a movie that has not one, not two, but three scenes of improvised oral surgery that make Laurence Olivier's bit in Marathon Man look like Steve Martin's bit in Little Shop of Horrors? For starters, you can say that that's really not the most disturbing thing this Korean import has to offer. Oldboy, as it turns out, is not interested in grossing us out, though not for a lack of trying. It's much more interested in playing with the conventions of the revenge fantasy and taking us on a very entertaining ride to places that, conceptually, we might not want to go.

The film begins with the first of many feints that play with our assumptions. A skinny, unkempt man holds another over the side of a building by his tie. Flash back to a fat, clean-shaven man named Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) acting drunk and disorderly in a police station (in a truly Raging Bull-esque effort on Choi's part, we have no clue that this will become the man holding the tie). He isn't out for five minutes before he suddenly disappears. Next thing he knows, he's in what looks like a hotel room, being fed through a slot in a metal door and being gassed on a regular basis. This goes on for 15 years.

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What can you say about a movie that has not one, not two, but three...

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