Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Joe Doucett stumbles along the street, drunk. Tomorrow should bring a hangover to rival all hangovers. Except being intoxicated will be the last thing on his mind..
Upon leaving a bar, Joe notices a mysterious lady standing on the street, holding a yellow umbrella. He begins to approach her – but before he gets to her, is suddenly smashed in the head and knocked unconscious.
Joe awakens in a hotel room.
..except this hotel room is isolated. And is about to become Joe’s prison.
For the next twenty years…
This has to be one of the most sinister, irrelevant films I have ever watched. Originally, Oldboy is a South Korean cult movie produced in 2003 by Park Chan-wook. And boy, am I not surprised. I mean, no-one brings us twisted plots and characters like the Koreans or Asians. And Oldboy added to the pack nicely.
If you’re looking for a downright bizarre tale of imprisonment – which is laced with mystery, oozing revenge and throws more blood at the audience than a butcher’s meat counter on Christmas eve, look no further. You found it.
Josh Brolin – Joe Doucett
Elizabeth Olsen – Marie Sebastien
Sharlto Copley – Adrian Pryce
Samuel L. Jackson – Chaney
Michael Imperioli – Chucky
Pom Klementieff – Haeng-Bok
When Joe first wakes up in the hotel room, he tries to get out naturally – but finds the room is encased in tough metal. An illuminated poster on the wall shows a general outdoor setting absorbed in daylight, which slides up to reveal a night-time scene once evening arrives. And to prevent him from starving, a small hatch at the bottom of the door opens three times daily – with someone on the outside sliding food through on a tray.
The whole setting is incredibly claustrophobic, so some of you may want to steer clear of this movie if you become agitated by small spaces, etc.
We watch as Joe begins to ‘lose it’ – at one point he lays on the ‘hotel room’ bathroom floor with a rat crawling all over him, whilst prodding a box containing the rat’s newborn rodents. Gross! But he shifts from insanity to sanity with the help of the television cut into his bedroom wall..
Over the period of twenty years, Joe becomes a skilled boxer form practising in front of the television whilst a martial arts programme plays. He also gets the news (broadcast only at important times, I.E. 9/11, Obama being elected, etc.) and a strange show is broadcast called Unresolved Mysteries of Crime.
However, it appears Unresolved Mysteries of Crime has only one viewer. Joe. And the show is about to deliver him some tragic news that he will have to sit on for the next twenty years…
Josh is actually very good as Joe. He seems to carry a natural flair for acting, and it never falters in this movie. On the contrary, he plays out his role effortlessly with a nice big ‘bad boy done wrong’ image. We get his crazy side, his emotional side, angry side, vengeful side – all displayed with some excellent facial expressions and acting.
He throws a whole load of aggressive violence, rage and revenge our way; but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor bugger who had been locked up in the same room for twenty years. We watch as Joe is released, and desperately tries to track down the person who did him wrong – resulting in some bloody bloody consequences for a particular handful of men..
Part of this movie quite literally follows suit of The Bride’s rampage in Kill Bill. Remember when she has to slay her way through ‘The Crazy 88’ before getting to O-Ren Ishii? Ducking and diving, she practically dances her way through the crime organisation, making murder an art form and collecting quite a few limbs on the way.
Joe Doucett does practically the same thing. Upon entering the building of (possibly) the people responsible for his imprisonment, he slices his way through the henchmen in a fashion that can only be likened to Kill Bill. I honestly could not fathom how he – a singular man – managed to butcher his way through so many men in one pop. Was he released from the fake hotel room with fucking superpowers too?!
As I sat there watching, I wondered if the director had been inspired – or perhaps the director of Kill Bill was inspired by the original version of Oldboy.
Who knows. But try and see if you can spot what I’m talking about when you watch it.
As the movie continues we watch as Joe tries to track down all the men on a list he has compiled. Twenty years in the making, this list contains the names of the men he knows who may possibly have been involved in his torture. As he sets out to discover the truth, he also tries to track down his daughter Mia – adopted shortly after his abduction back in 1993.
At one point, Joe spots a figure from the past; that lady with the yellow umbrella – and immediately chases after her. Unfortunately she vanishes swiftly and Joe is left reeling with nothing to go on. Until of course, he meets young nurse Marie Sebastien (Olsen) who offers to help him. But like with most “You’ve been through a lot – you are a complete stranger to me – but I will get romantically involved with you anyway” movies, the nurse joins him on his mission – managing to restore his health, as well as his sex drive. (yes – there is the classic ‘patches him up whilst talking about her rocky relationship she had with mother when she was twelve – then bangs him’ scene).
A very intriguing part of the story is when Joe pops out for dinner. A lot. In every restaurant he can find..
When he was in captivity, the food slid under his door was always Chinese – from a Chinese restaurant. Fried Rice, Chicken Balls, Crackers, Duck (he hates duck) – so what better way to lead him to his captors than to test the food at every local Chinese restaurant, until his taste lands on the exact food supplied to him whilst in captivity?
This scene made me feel hungry and full – at the same time. Joe basically sits munching his way through endless plates of Chinese noodles, chicken, duck, and other specialities in the hopes of landing the one he is familiar with. Cheeks near-exploding with food, Josh Brolin is a portrait of pure gluttony – its hilarious to watch, what a bloody picture.
I actually felt myself taking gulps of breath whilst watching him shove forkful after forkful of sloppy food into his mouth. Ew.
What I found surprising was Joe’s relaxed reaction to his newfound prison cell. Of course at first, he tries to escape – but only manages to tear a bit of paper off the door. And screams a little. But his reaction was nothing short of, “aah, bugger it. I’ll try kick the door down in a few days time”.
He calmly walks away from the door and then sits on his bed to watch the TV. He seems to be enjoying the programme which is on, and even starts masturbating to the female presenter of a keep-fit programme. His relaxed attitude even leads him to sit quietly writing letters at a desk, to his daughter who is somewhere on the outside.
Although I was surprised at how chilled out a prisoner he was, perhaps this was how he mentally coped with the situation.
When Joe is released into the world after his twenty-year hotel room stay, it is far from simply walking through a door.
He is drugged, and then he awakes – curled up – in a posh trunk. As he rises from the box, you can see he has changed. Freshly shaven, new haircut, dressed in a smart suit. And he has been left with a pouch of cash – and a mobile phone. How very cryptic..
What made me laugh here was his reaction to the mobile phone. It is an Apple iPhone 5; slick and sexy (as only Apple can do) – and a complete alien to Joe. He has no idea what on earth it is, or how to use it. Its at this point you have to remember that this guy has been locked away for twenty years, and a lot has changed since 1993.
Other than his adorable naivety, Joe Doucett is smart, spruced and ready for revenge…
You love a good mystery
You don’t mind graphic violence and blood
You are a fan of Manga, etc.
You wish to watch Josh Brolin completely naked and having sex (bonus)
You dislike graphic violence, blood and detailed grisly injury
You become tedious of long processes
You suffer from claustrophobia
Overall, Oldboy is watchable and contains some excellent acting provided by our main man Josh Brolin. It is a subtle tale of intrigue, blended with some nice gritty action from a man who is out to deliver nothing but revenge to the people who imprisoned him. But I don’t think I’d sit through it again. Although watchable, it is pretty much a ‘watch once, put to bed’ kind of movie. But for what it lacks in excitement, it more than makes up for in violence and bloody gore.
It appears revenge really is a dish best served piping hot…