April 12, 2009

Oldboy: Revenge Is Sweet, Repeatedly

I'd always been afraid to watch Oldboy a second time because I loved it so much the first. This movie, along with Save the Green Planet, is why I'm the longstanding fan of Korean film that I am. I didn't want to mess with that memory. I didn't want to rob Oldboy of its stature. In a nutshell, I was secretly worried that knowing the "shocking ending" beforehand would diminish the pleasures ahead. Would it end up feeling like a gimmick flick? Not to fear. Park Chan-wook's revenge masterpiece works equally well when you're clued in to the horrific plot twists. It's still creepy, lyrical, and deranged but now it's also deterministic. That main guy is doomed! Choi Min-sik gives what's likely the performance of his career as a man who, imprisoned 15 years for crimes unknown, is driven crazy by his need to discover why he was captured and confined. He's more than ably supported by Kang Hye-jeong as a blameless femme fatale and Yu Ji-tae as his pretty boy nemesis. The whole spiral downward is stunningly shot, paced, and performed. And does anyone not like perfection simply because they know where it's going? Not me. If an ending's any good, it's good whether you know it's coming or not. The spoiler is a term reserved for second-rate films.

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