Welcome to Solano County Library's Movie Spotlight section! Here you will find brief movie reviews of highly recommended independent or foreign films available in our catalog that you may have missed.
"I want to eat something that is alive."
Those are the potent words of one angry protagonist in the Korean noirish thriller masterpiece "Oldboy" by director Chanwook Park. The movie, loosely based on a Japanese Manga of the same name, is a visceral, sucker punch of a revenge tale about a once ordinary family man, named Dae-Su Oh, who is kidnapped and imprisoned in a private jail for 15 years for unknown reasons and by a mysterious kidnapper. We watch from Dae-Su's perspective as he first takes us through his everyday activities in his grimy room/cell, accompanied only by a television set, where he keeps up on current events and even learns martial arts! When he is finally released, he is given a suit and cellphone with only five days to find out the reasons why he was jailed. Nothing goes easy for Dae-Su, however, as he embarks on a bloody rampage on his quest for vengeance and answers with his former captor still hell-bent on torturing him for reasons revealed in the climax. The film is long on style with brilliant cinematography, lighting, and set design and flashy camera compositions. As luck would have it, "Oldboy" is also backed with an engaging storyline, dynamic acting, neat action sets (including an infamous fight scene in a dark corridor that is done in one continuous shot), and a whopper of an ending you may not see coming but promises to linger in your mind afterwards. Fair warning, however, as this is graphic material that covers some taboo subject matter and is definitely not for children or those with queasy stomachs. If you can stomach the violence and provocative script, you'll be rewarded with a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride that demands multiple viewings.
Note: This film is considered the 2nd of three films that deal with the theme of vengeance all by the same director and has been called the Vengeance Trilogy, each with different characters and different plot lines so viewing them in order isn't necessary. The other two films are Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and Lady Vengeance (2005) and they are also worth checking out from our catalog.
Similar films to compare to that may be more well-known and also in our catalog: Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) by Quentin Tarantino, Taken (2008) by Pierre Morel, Wanted (2008) by Timur Bekmambetov, and The Usual Suspects (1995) by Bryan Singer.
--by Joaquin A. 12/01/11