This past week I watched the movie Oldboy. No, not the Spike Lee remake, which looks horrible. This was the first Korean movie I’ve seen. I had always heard about how Korean movies were different than Hollywood movies, that they were more realistic and didn’t have the sappy happy endings and fake romance of Hollywood. My Korean friends were right. This movie was real. An emotional roller coaster. Even joyous moments had a twinge of pain in them.
The story starts in a police office where our main character is being held for disorderly conduct on the evening of his daughters birthday. This was actually the last sequence filmed and almost all of the lines were ad libbed by the actor. His friend bails him out and takes him outside to call his wife on a payphone. As his friend turns around to hand Dae-su the phone, he realizes he is gone. The camera zooms out and up to show a single umbrella underneath which lies the present Dae-su had bought for his daughter.
He has been kidnapped and taken to a prison in the form of a hotel room and kept for fifteen years without being told why. He is then released and made to search for his captor but during his search he meets a young girl, falls in love and realizes that the real question he should have been asking was not who his captor was but why he was released.
After reading a bit about the movie I learned that the director named the main character after the Greek hero Oedipus. Maybe that gives away a bit of the plot but it also shows how much pain and suffering the main character goes through.
This is the third movie I’ve seen in my one movie a week exercise but it’s the first I’ll be writing a review for. Towards the end of my first viewing of the film I started to notice the great cinematography. How the computer screen that Dae-su and his friend Junfan were looking at fades into the school grounds as Dae-su drives into the scene and how he chases the memory of himself up and down the steps until he sees something he wasn’t meant to.