ARCHIVE REVIEW: Oldboy

Oldboy
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written by: Jo-yun Hwang, Chun-hyeong Lim, & Chan-wook Park (screenplay, Nobuaki Minegishi (comic)
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Hye-jeong Kang, Ji-tae Yu, and Dae-han Ji

Chan-wook Park makes no secret of his influences.  From Tarantino-esque violence to Frank Darabont’s Shawshank Redemption, this movie’s story and visual style are the cut-up pieces of movies new and old.  Is it a coincidence it came out the same year as Kill Bill?  Someone with a PhD in film studies could probably have a field day, but I was grossed-out and bored.

Oldboy is the kind of movie sold as a visually-stunning thrill-ride that makes you think. Other than keeping up with the fairly simplistic story amid all of the visual prowess, not much thinking really takes place.  People mistake the “gasp!” twist near the ending for actual thematic depth, when in reality the only means to this movie’s end is driving out the memories with a hammer to the head.

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If they were in television… M. Night Shyamalan

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Notable Films: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, The Happening

Famous for: Films with ridiculously unprecedented twists endings, supernatural science fiction, making cameos in his movies and crediting himself as an actor, films that lose money, The Sixth Sense

Hypothetical premise: A selfless, middle-aged heart surgeon is traumatized by the loss of his bride and mother of his children in her suicide attempt that he could not prevent or save her from after he spent a the night drinking. Now sworn sober and a dedicated father, he deals with painful flashbacks and alienation from people in his life who are much more perfect than he is. Almost too perfect. As he begins searching for cause of his wife’s suicide, he realizes it may not have been a suicide at all, instead it was a highly plotted murder carried out by the town’s council who wants to seduce the male lead and pull the memories of his wife away and replace them with memories of her. Of course, only something so mischievous and supernatural could be done by the queen of a water nymph town where no humans were allowed to leave. Escape is a world away. Each episode ends with him finding out he is in a different time period, on a different planet, as a different character. Enter aliens. Apocalypse. Continue reading