Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Terrifying Tale of Oldboy

A friend of mine recently told me about a South Korean film he watched called Oldboy. I did a little research and found out that he wasn't the only one raving about it. It won the Grand Prix at Cannes (in 2004 -- this is an older film). And CNN has called it one of the best Asian movies ever made. So I decided to check it out for myself (using the awesome "Instant Watch" feature on Netflix).

The movie tells the horrific tale of Oh Dae-su (played by Choi Min-sik). Oh Dae-su is kidnapped and held prisoner for 15 years without any clue as to who has kidnapped him or why. Eventually, he is mysteriously released. Having no explanation to any questions about his imprisonment (or why he was released), Oh Dae-su sets out to find answers and exact his revenge. The tale that follows is truly terrifying and tragic. There are lots of pretty gruesome events and pretty twisted plot developments. But I'll leave out much of the plot because I don't want to ruin surprises for potential viewers.

My only real beef with the movie is that it was dubbed over with English voice actors instead of subtitles. I can't stand dubbing. I generally feel it makes a movie worse. The voice actors picked never really seems to match up with the characters, and it's really distracting watching someone's lips move when they're obviously not saying the words you're hearing. Maybe it's just me, but I enjoy subtitles much more.

Despite the dubbing, the movie is still pretty good. The story itself is really unique and really powerful. It's sort of a mix between Man on Fire and Hostel (don't worry though -- no scene in Oldboy can rival the more grotesque stuff in Hostel). It has great action scenes and has a really great score. There are a few lines of dialogue where things are definitely lost in translation, but that's to be expected with any foreign film. Overall, I don't know if it matched the unfairly high expectations I had for it, but I'm definitely not mad I watched.

Bottom line: Definitely worth a watch. Check it out if you can. (B)

Here's the preview:

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