Sometimes you will stumble upon a taste of world cinema that truly makes you question why you rarely go out and find these gems. This is what happens when I watch certain South Korean films. You’ve seen me talk about a South Korean film before, and it was freakin amazing. One I’d recommend to everyone, especially cinematographers. You can read up about it here. But for today I want to talk about how Chan-Wook Park’s Oldboy made me feel.
From beginning to end, I felt the retribution spilling from the screen. To give you an idea on how the content was: think Tarantino with a more vile honesty. Watching Oldboy made me feel like I was warped into the mind of the protagonist. The stupendous Korean actor, Min-sik Choi, plays businessman and father Oh Dae-Su. This man is kidnapped and locked away in a hotel-like prison by an unknown captor. Fifteen long years go by, and with insanity and confusion, he is freed only to begin his search for answers. This movie is straight up weird at times. But with this in mind, it only feels natural to allow such aspects. There is a reason why the film won the Grand Prix Award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. I can tell you that one good reason is the stellar cinematography. A big “Wow!,” it was. Watching this movie was a pleasant thrill. The choice of camera angles and lighting couldn’t have fit the mis-en-scène more.
I really cannot put into words how beautiful and powerful this film is, so here is a clip I found on YouTube thanks to NathanStarrVideo. It’s a beautiful tribute to the cinematography of this film, and it hits all the great points in lines, foreground presentation, and tonality. Have a look!
It’s interesting, in a way, how the director of a violent flick elaborates on his comfort in the revenge genre. In an interview with Film4, Chan-Wook Park goes on to say,”I try not to portray violence in a beautiful or playful way. It’s fun to watch playful violence, as in Kill Bill, but actually shooting violence in such a way, I feel conscious of guilt.” In all its twisted glory, Oldboy is an instant classic in my book. You can view this film on Netflix, fortunately! I cannot wait to continue reviewing foreign films for you guys. We’ll see what I can find.