“Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.”
A friend lent me Old Boy a few weeks ago, and I finally managed to set aside a few hours in my current whirlwind of decorating, furniture-buying, and all the other stuff that goes with moving into a new flat with a girlfriend, and sit down and watch this excellent South Korean movie, and it felt only right that I gushed about it while my impressions of it are still fresh.
The story is fairly simplistic; Oh Dae-su is an alcoholic loser with a wife and a kid. Following a night of drunken misconduct, Dae-su is released by police. On the way home, he’s abducted and imprisoned, but not by the police. In fact, he never finds out who’s imprisoned him, or why, or where. What Dae-su does know is that he’s kept locked up in a room with no human contact for fifteen years. Then, he’s released – again, with no reason – with a wallet full of cash and a phone. With a hundred questions, Dae-su sets out to find who imprisoned him and why. Along the way, he meets and ends up falling in love with young sushi chef Mi-do, who ends up getting entangled in the whole wretched web that Dae-su unwittingly span years and years ago.
Also there’s a bit where Dae-su eats a live octopus and OH GOD IT IS HORRENDOUS.
There’s a twist, and it’s great. Actually, there’s a few twists, and they’re all great. Old Boy is one of those films where watching a second time, after you know the twist, utterly changes your viewpoint of some scenes (if you know the twist, you know the scene I mean) and how you interpret the story, and I love shit like that. It’s pretty much the only reason I cut The Others, a fairly mediocre and tame spooky movie, some slack; because the twist is literally that. It turns your perception of what you’ve been watching inside out and upside down with just a single sentence or visual.
So, yeah. Old Boy. Great, great film. I handed it back to my friend the next day, we gushed, and then after work, I went across the road to CEX and bought a copy. Just a warning though; there is no happy ending. The ending is bittersweet at best, and shit gets dark – really goddamn dark – before even that. I can’t recommend it enough though.
Need a little extra persuasion? Okay… this is a fight scene from the movie. Now, Old Boy is not really an action movie, although Oh Dae-su does get into a few scuffles. But this fight scene… man. It’s not pretty, and it hasn’t got fancy choreography, but it’s one unbroken shot, and holy shit is it awesome. It’s a dirty, messy brawl between a load of sweaty henchmen and an angry man with a claw hammer.