8/10

The Netflix Gems continue.

If you were ever unfortunate enough to see the shitty American remake of this, please do yourself a favor and watch the Japanese original. And if you’ve never heard of the film Oldboy before, then this might be the newly hidden jewel for you.

Picture a scenario where one day, someone comes and kidnaps you but places you in a room to live for the next 20 years. You don’t see anyone. You can’t leave. And you’re given no reason as to why you’re there. Everything is provided for you, but you’re drugged at night to “help” you fall asleep, and you continue to live normally under constant 24-hour surveillance. Oh, and any efforts to attempt to kill yourself will immediately be put to a stop, so you’re basically in prison for a good portion of your life. What the fuck are you going to do?

Oldboy is a film that explores this scenario and is the craziest conception by masterful Japanese filmmaker Park Chan-wook. The director has also put out other great but wild films such as The Handmaiden and Thirst, but Oldboy is essentially his Mangum Opus.

This film isn’t for the faint-hearted as it does dive into some pretty heavy themes and images. But the entire experience is eviscerating, to say the least. There’s a scene famous for its depiction of an epic fight that are held entirely in one hallway and is all done in one continuous take with no cuts. The effort to set up something like this is truly remarkable and full credit has to go to its ballsy director and the team behind him, to execute his madman-like vision.

But above all, Oldboy is a piece of work that highlights Japanese cinema at its finest. Whilst the West are often conservative with their choices in film productions, the East are the risk takers that all filmmakers should aspire to be. Because when it does work, just like it has with Oldboy, it works so fucking well and it makes you proud to watch it.

The film makes you sit back with your friend, as you’re watching the film and say things like “Look at this shit. We fucking made this. Us. People. Aren’t humans the most interesting species to date?”. Because the answer to this is yes, and films like Oldboy put a spotlight to the type of risk taking that we need to take in all films, and the endless limit to our imagination that’s possible.

A disturbing but great film. See it.

38 comments

  1. Great review of a classic film. Sorry to be pedantic but the director is from South Korea rather than Japan. But as your review suggests Park Chan Wook is without doubt one of the best and more original filmmakers out there!

    1. You’re completely right. Great pickup, sorry about that. I think Asian cinema in general are bigger risk takers compared to the West also.

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