Director: Chan-wook Park
After finally watching Chan-wook Park's Oldboy, I completely understand why it has the reputation it does. With an unyielding ferociousness and a depth of devastation quite unlike anything I've seen before, it was one of the most stylistically inventive, thrillingly directed, masterfully acted and written tales of revenge ever.
As tired as the term has become, this movie is a masterpiece and there isn't a single flaw I can find. It's a harrowing and visceral experience. I was under the impression this was a straightforward revenge story, just told with incredible stylistic finesse. But the narrative stands out as one of the most inventively crafted elements to me. It was such a unique, subversive take on this kind of story - with so many genuine punches along the way. The most gut wrenching and distressing moments came from the emotional and psychological despair that our protagonist Dae-su Oh falls to. We experience it with him, and the storytelling was always unpredictable and compelling.
But this film exceeded my expectations in its direction. The fight choreography was breathtaking (that hallway scene), the violence was unnervingly visceral, the cinematography was stunning and the entire film had this captivating stylistic life to it from the vibrant colours and visuals to the editing. There were also really welcome moments of levity, balancing out a pitch black tone with some (albeit similarly pitch black) comedy. And finally, the acting was out of this world. Min-sik Choi absolutely killed it, conveying so much despair and agony that left me emotionally distraught. Ji-tae Yu was also fantastic as the cold, quietly unsettling Woo-jin Lee. The acting in this film was on another level.
I now see why Oldboy is revered as such a classic. Every aspect of the filmmaking from the script to the direction to the performances are so flawlessly executed, producing an often hard to watch but deeply affecting film that will very likely leave you in pieces.
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