I think I have seen all Kim Ki Duk movies and I never understood why his movies are not that popular in Korea. In fact even most Koreans are not really appreciative of this wonderful director. I still dont know the reason and am not sure why I even thought about Kim Ki Duk now. But I must say that Korean movies, from all what I have seen in the last 4 years, are excellent. Even some of the pure entertainment ones were excellent. Watching Old boy, I was thinking how lucky Koreans are.
Oh Dae-Su gets drunk on the birthday of his daughter and before he can reach her, is kidnapped. He is locked in a room and actually spends about 15 years there. When he is released he wants revenge and soon finds his kidnapper who reveals to him that Dae-Su has been hypnotised for selective memory and he will have to find out the reason behind his 15 years solitary confinement. Dae-Su, with Mi-do, a young chef he met in a restaurant, sets on this search for his past. He realises that the 15 years itself was a revenge on him, for a silly sin, and its not over. The worst part of this revenge is for him to experience, yet.
This movie is based on a novel, but if we can call some movie scripts as intelligent, then here is one for those list, which I would say is brilliantly intelligent. What a plot! Absolutely stunning. In the beginning, when he is in his jail, I was struggling to think about another movie on a similar kind of jail - still dont remember the name and if it was from US or Europe - but the similarity ends there. Oldboy actually starts only when Dae-Su is out of the jail. His quest for the past is excellent and so is his relationship with Mi-do and how he wants to take on his kidnapper Woo-jin. And as the past is out there, obviously not just Dae-Su, but even the viewers might think, is it all for this. Really? That just looks like a very silly sin. But once the final revenge on Dae -Su, the main secret, is revealed, the transformation on Dae-Su is stunning. He falls and pleads on the legs of Woo-jin like a dog and even cuts off his own tounge. The most amazing aspect is that we keep wondering, but isnt this a bit too much of a revenge. However, at the end there is this really touching scene between Woo-jin and Soo-ah and that scene was really heart broking. If one has ever fallen in love, it is hard to bear that scene and I must say I really felt sad.
It is also noteworthy that Hypnotism plays a major part in this movie, it occupies only a few seconds on screen though. The final scene, were Dae-su finds his original hypnotist and wants to be hypnotised again, is quite nice. The movie is left open for interpretations, like modern French classics, and I liked it. It is for sure that Mi-do is still not aware about the secret, but the final hypnotised Dae-su, what exactly is he carrying in his mind, is open to the viewer to interpret.
There are still some ethical questions here but I would like to ignore all that and all those probability questions and just admire and appreciate this movie. Cent percent, this is an intelligent and beautiful movie. Intelligent for its script and direction, beautiful for its technical sides and performances.
I feel proud about this movie as an Asian. My salutes to the writer and director.
Just wanted to note down something which is repeated in this movie - When you laugh the whole world laughs with you, when you cry you cry alone. Truly loved it.
This is a kind of genius of cruelty. Brilliant movie. It is nice that Hollywood haven't remade this yet.