Oldboy (2003)
December 18, 2022 10:36 AM - Subscribe

(Original title: Oldeuboi) After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.
posted by johnofjack (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I remember this movie. It's SUCH a mind fuck.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:55 PM on December 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

My friend and I left the theater in silence. We walked onto the street, said “welp…”, shook hands, and walked to our cars in separate directions.

This movie is something else.
posted by hototogisu at 4:34 PM on December 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

This came out when a lot of people were talking about videogame influence on movies. Run Lola Run, with its "three lives" and multiple run throughs, was one. But I thought it was a sign of the critics' limited understanding of games that this one wasn't held up as the prime example.

It's a complete early 21st century video game plot. It starts just after a traumatic event that leaves the player's avatar isolated from every one else, but gives him a single goal. The ability to do violence is the primary resource. From there it moves through action sequences, interspersed with little cut scenes of drama, until you get to the big boss and the Mind Blowing Twist™, which reveal that all the stupid choices you were railroaded into anyway were predestined, so don't call it bad writing! Also don't try to change them in the next playthrough.

It was well shot and even eerily compelling, but my main take away is it was mostly unpleasant, and the artificiality of it left me feeling I hadn't got out anything out of it.
posted by mark k at 11:23 AM on December 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

kittens for breakfast, in the thread for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, mentioned "what a mean-spirited film it is," and I think there's something to that. It's been a while since I saw them, but the thing that I remembered from each of the three films is that they ask you to feel sympathy for someone on a quest for vengeance, then do a rug pull showing you that no, it's more complicated than all that. It's possible I'm misremembering that (and it's also possible that, even if I'm not, that revelation is so basic that it doesn't bear mentioning) but when I saw them I was willing to go along with it and imagined that each film actually had something to say (even if they were all saying the same thing, to different levels of effectiveness).

Probably it requires a certain meanness of spirit to even entertain the idea that someone might deserve revenge against them, so I can absolutely understand why some viewers wouldn't enjoy these films even a little bit. Obviously they're not for everyone, and maybe they're not even for people who either don't have trauma in their backgrounds or who do but have done the work to get over it. I don't know.
posted by johnofjack at 2:42 PM on December 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

The movie’s even got a happy ending, c’mon…

I seem to remember Netflix’s Daredevil series having a fight that very much seemed a Hallway of Hammer homage. That scene was revelatory. Every individual blow landed on Oh Dae-Su carried more authenticity than entire franchises of the action movies we watched as kids. It was visceral in a way that is now commonplace, even expected. But not then.

Also, fuck the ending to the Spike Lee version. *That* is the really nasty shit,
in my opinion.
posted by hototogisu at 4:47 PM on December 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

I now have to watch this and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance again.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:39 PM on December 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

I recall the buzz when this came out and was surprised how I didn't connect with it at all. Certainly well put together - nicely shot, well acted, some nice set pieces - but... I found the plot fairly predictable (including the "twist" which I suspected it was going to go in the direction it does very early in the film) and its "Video Gameness" really alienated me. Very underwhelming for me. I never bothered with the US remake which was probably for the best.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I love Oh Dae-Su‘s expression when he finds out the antagonist’s motive. It’s so bewildered that he somehow got caught up in a very rich man’s obsession. Oh deserved to be punished for many reasons, but that wasn’t one of them. Instead of the horror of an uncaring universe, we get the horror of a universe that cares too much and for the wrong reasons.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:03 AM on December 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

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