Celebrating its 20th Anniversary from director Park Chan-Wook and Neon is the restored and remastered in stunning 4K masterpiece film of OLDBOY.
Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik) has been held prisoner for fifteen years and his days are spent trying to understand why. He is not being held in a cell but in a room with a bed, shower, ability to write and even watch the world go by on television. It may have been a sealed hotel room but a prison is a prison when you can’t walk out the door.
During this time, Oh Dai-Su decided that it was time to free himself after realizing that whoever is holding him will not allow suicide. He then decides to use his time shadowboxing and it makes him stronger. At the same time, he finds a way out of his prison after years of preparation.
Once out in the world, he meets Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung), a sushi chef that helps when he passes out in a restauraunt. When he finally feels more ‘human’, he begins to realize that he may be physically free, but mentally the question of who is responsible for his imprisonment hits hard. The person responsible for his captivity, continues to make his presence known and Dae-su thinks Mi-do could be part of it all.
He turns to buddy Joo-hwan (Ji Dae-han) while Mi-do finds out what happened to Dae-su’s young daughter after being set up for his wife’s death. Every step leads him to Lee Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae), a wealthy man that seems to know Dae-su very well and challenges him to discover the reason for his imprisonment.
What Oh Dae-Su discovers with each step is horrifying as he moves closer and closer to the truth of who is responsible and why he lost fifteen years of his life.
Min-sik as Dae-Su is nothing short of perfection in this role. As a man who struggles with captivity (as would any sane human being), this character goes from complete madness to the focus of survival. Once freed, if you can call it that, the mental prison still exists as Min-sik takes us on his portrayal of a man seeking answers and once he gets them, well, it’s a conversation for sure. I adore Min-sik in this role and having the film re-released just reminded me why.
Hye-jung as Mi-do is drawn to Dae-Su and truly wants to help him find answers. Putting herself in dangerous situations, it is clear that she has her own struggles to deal with. She is naïve but equally as invested in discovering who is haunting her new friend. With ever step that they uncover information, Hye-jung’s character maintains her undeniable care and concern for Dae-Su.
Dae-han as Joo-hwan tries to help his friend of many years look through the world of the internet and chat rooms for answers and connection. Dae-han is crafty and makes his role look easy.
Ji-tae as Woo-jin is deceitful and has the presence making him feel invincible and untouchable. He has a reason for everything he does as Ji-tae brings his character out in the open with no fear and plenty of story to tell. This actor has a presence that brings such intensity that it’s kind of freaky.
Other cast include Oh Tae-kyung as young Dae-su, Yoo Yeon-seok as young Woo-jin, Woo Il-han as young Joo-hwan, Kim Byeong-ok as Mr. Han, Yoo Jin-seo as Lee Soo-ah, and Oh Dal-su as Mr. Park Cheol-woong.
Neon is a film production company that is best known for such films as I, TONYA and one of the most incredible Oscar winning film PARASITE. With a total of 12 Academy Award nominations, Neon appeals to audiences that are looking for in-your-face storytelling. For more information, please visit www.neonrated.com.
OLDBOY was released in 2003 as the remastering of the original film just breathes new life into a fantastic story. I can easily see why directors that saw the film when it was first released, realized where storytelling and filmmaking could go. The uniqueness, the characters and flow of it all is truly a work of cinematic art.
Min-sik gives a stellar performance of Dae-su’s struggle to understanding his captivity, survive his captivity both physically and mentally and struggle to come back into the world to find out why it happened in the first place. The twists and turns this character goes through gives the viewer and experience like no other. He is strong and he will fight to his last breath.
Park Chan-Wook is also responsible for two other films as producer that are high on my list with the 2009 film THIRST and 2016’s THE HANDMAIDEN. His ability to tell this particular story is done with such in-your-face intensity that the fight scenes brought a mixture of jaw-drop and a few moments of uncomfortable giggle. That is because I expect a lot from the character of Dae-su but man oh man I got more than I bargained for.
Personally, I was thrilled when I heard that the film would be released in theatres because it is another opportunity for everyone to see the original. Imitations are fine I guess but the original source material can not be remade, reimagined or repeated as far as I’m concerned. OLDBOY is iconic in itself and should remain so.
In the end – laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone!