4 June 2013

A Few Thoughts on OLDBOY (Park Chan-wook/2003)

The first rule of Oldboy is: don’t watch it on an full stomach. The second rule of Oldboy is: there isn’t a rulebook. Park Chan-wook’s brilliant film is perhaps the most atypical adaptation of a comic book yet filmed. It’s a curiosity and a novelty within what normally typifies comic book-derived filmmaking. It’s brutal, hard toned and unsavoury on a variety of levels — fierce, compulsive viewing brim full of striking vibrancy. It stands up and stands firm: takes the lead from its lead, Choi Min-sik. It harnesses the excess and imagination on the page and throws it in searing, pounding images across the screen. (Oldboy is best seen in the biggest, darkest, loudest auditorium you can find.) It exhibits wholly pugilistic power. But it hammers on the heart too. The soul-crushing and so-unfortunate-it-hurts sadness is every bit as impacting as the full count of body blows. That revelatory sting in the final stretch delivers thrice the amount of poison deemed healthy for any viewer. Everything hurts by the end. Oldboy is ink-raw cinema.

(From The Film Experience's Top Ten Greatest Comic Book Adaptations of All Time.)

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