Running time: 120 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK release date: 15th October 2004
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 7th August 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is a South Korean film, yes, one of those with subtitles I’m afraid. I had heard very little about it before viewing, apart from a small synopsis, which didn’t even mention it was in Korean! The setting in modern South Korea where a man has been arrested for being drunk.
We begin in the police station where a very drunk man, Oh Dae-su is behaving quite badly. So bad, in fact that the police end up chaining him to the wall. Eventually his brother arrives to bail him out and we next see them in the rain at a phone box. Oh Dae-su is on the phone to his daughter, whose birthday it is, and he is telling her about the present he has bought for her. He passes the phone to his brother who talks for a moment and then turns to find Dae-su gone. We next see him in a room with a heavy, prison style metal door with a slot to pass food through at the bottom. He hears music and then gas is pumped into the room and he passes out. When he awakes, the room has been tidied and his hair has been cut. This continues for fifteen years, during which time he writes a journal where he lists all those he could have wronged in the past. When he is eventually released he makes his way to a sushi restaurant where he meets Mi-do, a girl with whom he falls in love despite the large difference in their ages. Dae-su now sets about finding out who locked him up for so long and, more importantly, why? And that is where I’ll leave my short synopsis; don’t want to give too much away.
This is a really well made film with a great score by Seung-hyun Choi and Ji-soo Lee. There is some great imagery used throughout and, although used sparingly, the special effects were excellent also. A really great performance by Min-sik Choi as Dae-su Oh and honourable mentions also go to Ji-tae Yu as Woo-jin Lee and Hye-jeong Kang as Mi-do.
Although I found this film a little long, I found it quite enjoyable to watch. As I’ve already said, the imagery used is very clever in places and the plot moves along at a nice pace. The story always keeps the audience guessing although I thought the pay-off at the end didn’t have quite the dramatic impact it could have. Having said that, it’s still well worth watching. Recommended.
My score: 7.7/10
IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0364569/
Official Site: Oldboy Official Site