Sunday, October 31, 2004

Oldboy: Revenge Pop

Earlier today, I watched the movie Oldboy, a movie made in Korea, that's hugely popular there, but has yet to make it over here. The movie is about a man who is imprisoned for fifteen years, and when he gets out, wants revenge. Finding out who imprisoned him and why is what the movie is about, and the answers are rather surprising. I'd already had one of the big surprises of the plot sort of ruined for me, but I still loved the movie becuase it's not really a movie about plot, it's much more about style, making it a pop movie.

What's a pop movie, you ask? To me, a pop movie is something where the filmmaking itself is so cool, that you don't even need to care about the story or characters to enjoy the movie. This movie has a lot of energy, from the very first scene on. The imprisonment sequence is absolutely phenomenal, particularly the ant attack sequence. The score, voiceover and way of shooting keep you riveted. This isn't to say that it's not interesting story matter, because it is, but it's the director who is being spotlighted. Some other really pop sequences in the film include Dae-su fighting off a crowd of ten or fifteen people. Park shoots it in one take, with Dae-su on the right, and the crowd on the left. They each go to challenge him, only to be beaten, and by the end a crowd of bodies fills most of the screen, as Dae-su stands triumphant on the other side.

Another great thing about the movie was the camerawork. The camera was free of restrictions in a way that reminded me of Irreversible. Park was able to do really interesting moves, particularly during the prison sequence. He also used some great transitions, particularly during the green grass hypnosis scene. Some of the scene transitions looked a bit too obviously CG, but generally speaking, they were quite impressive and did a good job of conveying the characters' states of mind.

The movie's pretty nasty. You'll very rarely see the sort of violence in this movie here in America. There's a scene with a hammer that had me rather uncomfortable, and same for a scene with scissors at the end of the movie. Was the violence neccessary? Probably not to the degree it was present, but I think it was always motivated by the story, the violence served the story rather than the other way around.

I'll have to see this movie again before I give it a final verdict. Along the way, I had a bit of trouble following a couple of the plot points, and that took me out of the movie. I'm hoping that if I see it again, I can get completely absorbed in the story, because I already know the plot. However, the movie is almost wholly about uncovering this mystery, so I'm not sure if it will be as interesting the second time. I guess only time will tell.

But, overall, the movie was shot and scored brilliantly, and that alone makes it worth watching. Great nasty plot twist at the end, not so much the "big twist" but the very end of the movie, which leaves you very conflicted, and that is a good thing.

Related Posts
Top 10 Films of 2004 (1/6/2005)
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (12/30/2005)
Three...Extremes (4/6/2006)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The thing is did Dae-Su know at the end of the film in the snow when Mido comes to hug him that he is her father or not? Did the hypnotist work?