CinemaClown’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the most shocking & disturbing tales of revenge you are ever going to come across, Oldboy is a genre-defining classic that didn't just set a new benchmark for revenge-thrillers to follow, which as of today still remains unsurpassed, but still remains the finest film to come out from the South Korean film industry, and it is in every way director Park Chan-wook's best work to date.
Oldboy tells the story of Oh Dae-su, who is abducted on the night of his young daughter’s birthday & is held captive in an apartment prison for 15 years, without any clue of why he is there & who has imprisoned him, and is later freed in the same inexplicable manner. Rest of the film is about Oh Dae-su trying to uncover the identity & motives of his captor to exact revenge.
Co-written & directed by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy is the second instalment of his Vengeance Trilogy, preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance & succeeded by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance but apart from the central theme of vengeance, every other aspect of this cinema is different from those two chapters for Oldboy tears through the confinements of its genre unlike anything before & is an exhilarating work of art.
Ingeniously written & directed, Park brilliantly layers the plot with clever twists & unflinching violence that slowly unravels its mysteries to give the viewers a cinematic jolt they’ll have a hard time forgetting. The picture is also exquisitely photographed & meticulously captured by its stylish camerawork. Editing steadily paces the narrative & also adds a grim mood that further enhances the film's dark elements.
Production design is stellar work in every manner, visual design is extremely enticing, sound design also plays a relevant role and its background score has a slight retro feel to it plus it happens to be heartwarming & heartbreaking at the same time. And while there are a lot of favourite moments to choose from, my favourite is the single long take of the corridor fight scene which in my opinion is one of 21st century's greatest cinema moments.
Coming to the performances, it's a trio of terrific performances that elevate its premise with most impressive input coming from Choi Min-sik who simply owns his role of Oh Dae-su & overshadows everything else. Next is Yoo Ji-tae giving us a controlled rendition of the guy responsible for Dae-su's imprisonment. And last we have Kang Haye-jung as Mi-do; Dae-su’s love interest who plays a vital role in the film's unpredictable & unexpected finale.
On an overall scale, Oldboy is a disturbing, unsettling & violent thriller from South Korea that will traumatize most of its viewers with its harrowing & sickening depiction of revenge but then, there is also no denying that with its remarkable blend of impeccable direction, clever screenplay, arresting photography, tight editing, amazing performances & classic score, it’s also one of the greatest films ever made. A haunting masterpiece, Park Chan-wook's magnum opus comes strongly recommended.
Full review at: wp.me/s3KleJ-oldboy