No Country for Oldboy(s)

Holy bejesus.

This isn’t a movie review; I saw this movie a week ago. Yeah, it was the week of Chinese New Year and my mum was telling me not to watch anything that would deter bad luck like violence or any other not-so-normal things on TV. I had to watch the movie because I was invited to one of my Korean friend’s Focus group for his Dissertation and it was all about Korean movies. So he sent me an email of a list of movies and this website with them all available for download.

The site wouldn’t download so I emailed him and then I said that there was about 19 pages with 100 movies in each and if he had any suggestions for a good Korean movie to watch. He recommended ‘Oldboy’ – if you’ve ever walked past the World Cinema in your local CD or DVD store, you may see this black boxwith a Korean man who actually looks a bit like the actor Mr Tony Leung who stars Hong Kong movies like Infernal Affairs – only this guy has a bit more hair, a moustache and a really evil look.

Oh and don’t forget the hammer (see picture)

So I watched the movie on Youtube which was split into 8 parts with absolutely no knowledge of what I was in for. I was sitting at my sister’s computer going ‘Ooohoohoo I hope this good’ and it was good; I really enjoyed it. It was enthralling and gripping. The music was awesome too! Now I know where Daniel Licht got his inspiration for his music on Dexter… one of the pieces in Oldboy is strangely identical to one of the background music on Dexter…

As the movie went on, I felt sorry for Oh Dae Su, the main character (and played by Choi Min-Sik) and Mr Tony Leung look-alike. Basically, the plot’s this – he was taken and imprisoned for 15 years in this grimy flat and had no idea why. Then one day, he was released, and he wanted to find out why and get revenge. But of course he’s gone a bit cuckoo because he’s been deprived of socialisation and general contact with the outside world so eccentricity isn’t really an unusual word to describe him.

Along the way in his quest for revenge and to find the truth, he meets Mido, and is reunited with his old friend. He eventually discovers that the person who imprisoned him is some rich man with marvellous white, sparkling teeth who dresses like a hobolicious, crack-sniffing junkie who is apparently meant to be the same age as him but looks at least ten years younger than Dae Su (must be because he’s so rich and can eat abalone and other skin-refreshing luxuries whenever he wants lol). The final showdown includes Dae Su confronting the truth which should’ve been left unknown.

SPOILER ALERT

….  thank god I watched this alone! This is NOT the movie you want to watch with your mother. No, not at all. There are fight scenes, teeth-torture scenes, naked scenes… dignity-shredding scenes… and an octopus-eating scene (while it was still alive O___O). 

I told my sister about it and said I really enjoyed it (gore and teeth-pulling and octopus-munching and nakedness aside). It was an atmospheric journey of anguish and turmoil and you understood his pain and the morality of it all was crushing. You learn along with Dae Su throughout the movie, and the end – the twist – the shocker – was even more stomach-punching and brain-bashing than anything I’d imagined or ever watched, that’s for sure. I felt a bit sick after watching it, actually… My mouth was practically touching the ground and I couldn’t watch it. Now, I’ve seen a lot of gory and scary movies, but one of the scenes in Oldboy was really a wince-and-hide-behind-the-sofa sort of thing.

Why?

….Well, did he really have to cut his tongue out? ><

You can’t imagine the difficulty I had trying to talk about the movie during the Focus group. The question was: did the Korean movie you watched have an impact on your perceptions on Korean hospitality?

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