ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Oldboy (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Park Chan-wook

Starring:
Choi Min-sik/Oh Dae-su
Gang Hye-jung/Mido
Yoo Ji-Tae/Lee Woo-jin
PLOT-CRUNCH
A booze loving family man named Dae-su (Min-sik) is kidnapped and jailed in a room by mysterious captors for fifteen long years. When finally set free he tries to find out the “whom” and “why” as to his incarceration while craving that grub best served on ice cubes called vengeance.
THE LOWDOWN

I'm going to rip your whole body apart, and no one will be able to find it anywhere because I'm going to chew it all down! - Dae-su

Ouch! I viewed this head-banger (which opens limited in the USA on March 25th 2005) at 8 in the morning while nursing a hangover and let me tell ya; what a harsh way to start the day! This South Korean sucker puncher whooped me silly and when I was down, begging for it to stop, it crushed my tail bone into ashes, slapped them in a Salt Shaker and sold me to a dingy Korean Food Restaurant. Yup it was that bad in a GOOD way!

Oldboy was yet another picture about the universal theme of revenge (we’re getting a lot of those this year) but it thankfully went about its trek in such an unorthodox and off the wall fashion that it felt fresher than an 18 year old masseuse giving me a “me love you long time” rub-down. Where most cinematic vengeance efforts are fairly one- two- three in their narrative structure (or one - two – fire hydrant- three in case of the recent Punisher flick), Oldboy went the one-two - explore the layers of its lead characters – topsy-turvy the story – run the viewer over emotionally - three- way. This was far from the linear exercise that I was expecting and I constantly thanked the movie for astounding me, challenging my minuscule intellect and putting me through the visceral ringer via its breaking of boundaries.

At the end of the kill; although I mucho grooved to the excessive brutality found here (ever see somebody pull somebody’s teeth out with a hammer), the wild fight sequences (freaking Dae-su doesn’t f*ck around) and the film’s addictive mystery (I was on the edge of my edge the whole way), it was truly the humanity of this tale that kept my retinas and yes my heart (I know…how tacky) rooted to the screen. Oldboy played as an existential essay of one man’s search for the truth while having to be re-acquainted with his own demons to find it. Themes of tragic love, regret, sadness and hopelessness were all ingredients tossed in this sour Won Tong soup and I relished in its bitter taste. It surely helped that the performances by all were beyond excellent with Choi Min-sik in particular as Oh Dae-su carrying and selling the movie hands down. What a no holds barred and outstanding show! Now that’s freaking acting! If this duder didn’t go insane while playing this part, he must be made of stone cold granite.

Furthermore, the visual panache of the affair was a big plus where every frame was overflowing with style and meaning. I particularly enjoyed the displayed mix of artsy and gritty and totally cha-chaed to the director’s little creative touches here and there. For example, the 5 minutes one - continuous take - tracking shot - fight sequence was such a sight! The same could be said about that quirky little graphic appearing on the screen to display the path that a hammer will take once it swings down on some poor schmuck’s head. Clever…very clever! Add to all that razor-cut class the film’s knack at taxing the viewer by not spelling anything out, a strong axis on symbolism, an above the norm attention to details and an ending that literally knocked my block clean off…and I mean CLEAN OFF and you get one hell of a sit down. Probably the best of the year thus far!

I personally have absolutely nothing negative to say about Oldboy. The flick walked a ruthless, poetic, witty and ugly path and in consequence home-runned a Taboo busting, bitter sweet opus. You think your life sucks? Wait till you see what this Oldboy goes through! DAMN!
GORE
Although not overly graphic, this one showed and suggested enough to make me wince like a school girl seeing a rattle snake for the first time. I’m talking ants crawling out of one’s flesh, teeth pulled out with a hammer, a knife in the back, the eating of a live octopus (gross…that was a first for me) and the cutting of one’s tongue.
ACTING
Choi Min-sik (Oh Dae-su) gave an astonishing performance; displaying skin deep vulnerability and a courage that I highly respected. The role demanded that he venture to very dark places and he plunged into them head first. What a show! Gang Hye-jung (Mido) was adequate as the love interest. Yoo Ji-Tae (Lee Woo-jin) was mucho efficient as the baby faced, effeminate and enigmatic figure.
T & A
We get a couple tit shots and male butt shots. To be honest I didn’t care about female treats while watching this one (yes, there’s a first time for every thing), the story and the performances totally consumed me.
DIRECTING
This is the first Park Chan-wook that I see and you can already call me a fan. The man’s ingenious shots, striking style and the high intelligence/sensibility he displayed through his visuals made for quite the inimitable sit down. This guy is going to go real far!
SOUNDTRACK
The mix of silence, opera music and traditional score gave the flick an exceptional and scrumptious flavor.
BOTTOM LINE
Oldboy was a distinctive and hard hitting concoction! Think a mix of Takashi Miike movies, Angel Heart, Death Wish and The Game by way of Bruce Lee. The picture sported an infectious visual style, powerhouse performances, high brutality, depth, smarts and an ending that might just ruin your day in its severity. I was yelling "no f*cking way" at the screen when that finale kicked in and was emotionally drained once the end credits rolled. What else can one ask for? If like me you enjoy being tested and smacked around like Tina Turner in her “Ike” days by a movie; give this Oldboy a pat on the behind! You’ll thank me for it when it bites your arm off!
BULL'S EYE
The film was inspired by the Japanese Manga of the same name by Minegishi Nobuaki and Tsuchiya Garon

Four live squid were gobbled up to shoot the Dae-su chows down bit.
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10:34PM on 08/31/2009
An well told tale of revenge. It kept me interested and was entertaining, with nice performances. It had memorable scenes and was nicely filmed. I don't know why but it kind of reminded me of Kill Bill, just not as graphic. I will recommend it to anyone who likes revenge thrillers.
An well told tale of revenge. It kept me interested and was entertaining, with nice performances. It had memorable scenes and was nicely filmed. I don't know why but it kind of reminded me of Kill Bill, just not as graphic. I will recommend it to anyone who likes revenge thrillers.
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4:23PM on 02/26/2008

A must see!

The superb acting and storyline keep u hooked to the end. Add in all the nice action sequences and a little bit of blood for fun and u've got a hell of a film.
The superb acting and storyline keep u hooked to the end. Add in all the nice action sequences and a little bit of blood for fun and u've got a hell of a film.
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6:50AM on 09/17/2005

Brilliant

My all time favorite movie. All i'll say is that its perfect.
My all time favorite movie. All i'll say is that its perfect.
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12:24AM on 08/20/2005

Best revenge film i've ever seen

Choi Min-sik is so intense its scary. One of my favorite genre films to come out the past couple of years.
Choi Min-sik is so intense its scary. One of my favorite genre films to come out the past couple of years.
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