Oldboy is ranked 116 in the 2010 IMDb Top 250 Challenge.

Oldboy is a South Korean film about a man named Oh Dae-su, who after being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years before being unceremoniously released, quests to find out who kidnapped him, but more importantly why.  We follow his story as he converts from the a drunken, loutish father, through to a shell-shocked prisoner and to a vengeful yet humble warrior on his journey seeking answers.

This one is hard to review without spoiling it, though in short it’s entertaining and enthralling.  His imprisonment and release turns into a bizarre series of mind games, plot twists and bouts of violence (like many eastern films, western viewers may be put off by the intensity and graphic nature of the violence, though we’re not talking about a slasher flick here).  The plot can be hard to follow and like many twist-ful films is probably worth a second screening so you can watch it again with a better understanding of how it plays out, though this is probably half caused by a lost-in-translation effect.

Technically speaking, the filming and framing of each scene is quite good, the prison scenes are shot very tightly and often at strange angles for example, enhancing the feeling of claustrophobia.  The acting, even without an understanding of Korean to check if the actors are flubbing their lines, is very intense.  The action scenes, though infrequent, are well done and don’t fall into fantastical bouts of unrealistic Kung-Fu.  Special mention goes to the corridor scene, which is shot almost like an old side-scrolling arcade game.  The film is afflicted with what I’d coin as the ‘Sixth Sense Effect’ though, that once you’ve seen it a couple of times and fully explored the winding plot, the impact of the film might be lost on subsequent viewings.  Still, definitely one to watch.


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