Oldboy (Chan-Wook Park, 2003): Rio Cinema, 11.30pm
Another of the excellent midnight movie choices from the Rio Cinema. More details here.
Time Out review:
'It’s easy to feel blasé about the steady stream of action-oriented
movies from the Far East, but this latest head-spinner from the director
of the crunching ‘Sympathy for Mr Vengeance’ is far, far too good to
leave to the ‘Asia Extreme’ crowd.
When we first meet businessman Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik),
he’s a drunken boor, though he’d doubtless sober up if he knew what was
coming. Abducted by persons unknown, he’s held prisoner for 15 years,
until he’s just as unexpectedly released. Still none the wiser, he falls
into a relationship with a sushi-bar hostess, whereupon his captor
contacts him by mobile and offers a deal: if he can work out why he was
kidnapped in the first place, the villain will offer up his life – if
not, the girl cops it.
For Oh Dae-Su, getting mad and getting
even amount to virtually the same thing. The sequence where he
rearranges some low-life’s dental work will doubtless attract
over-excited attention, much like the jaw-dropping one-take
hammer-wielding skirmish in a corridor. But the upfront mayhem shouldn’t
be allowed to distract from the film’s emotional depth or indeed its
brilliant lead performance. For the protagonist, vengeance is a voyage
of discovery, yet his newfound propensity towards violence troubles him,
and his burning desire to confront his secretive nemesis may be fuelled
by lingering self-doubt that he deserved his fate. Whatever happens,
he’ll never be the same man again.
Choi Min-Sik is in the
Pacino or De Niro class, running the gamut from terrifying rage to
abject degradation. The implausibilities in the plot melt away because
we’re living the experience with him, thanks also in part to the bravura
expressiveness of Park’s direction. Hitchcock and Fincher are reference
points, but this combines visceral punch, a tortured humanity and even
an underlying Korean political resonance given the weight of the past.
Quite an achievement then, and well worthy of its Cannes prize.'
Here is the trailer.