A Review of Oldboy

When I heard that the Va. Tech shooter was supposedly obsessed with the movie Oldboy, it caught my eye, because at one point, I had that movie in my queue at Netflix. However, I’d never gotten around to watching it because it was the 2nd part of a “revenge” trilogy (Along with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance & Lady Vengeance) and inexplicably, out of the 3 movies, it was the only one that had been dubbed in English. Although I can take a dubbed movie occasionally, I usually end up watching movies while I work in my office, and so I don’t like being forced to focus all my attention on the movie in order to read the lines. That’s why I had previously dumped all three movies from my queue.

But, I figured that if Oldboy inspired Cho Seung-Hui, it might be worth watching it to do a review. So, I queued it up, watched it last night and….I gotta tell you, I can see why that movie appealed to the shooter.

Let me give you the plot.

A drunken, mouthy guy, Oh Dae-su is abducted off of a street corner and locked away in a room for 15 long years. All during that time, no one speaks to him or tells him why he’s locked up. Over time, unsurprisingly, he grows angrier, crazier, and more determined to get vengeance on whoever confined him.

Then, one day, he wakes up on a rooftop and he’s free. After roaming around the streets for a few days trying to figure out what was happening, a bum walks up to him and hands him a wallet full of cash and a cell phone.

Then, a bit later, he walks into a sushi restaurant and asks for something “live” to eat. So, after acting a bit crazy, angry, and eating live octopus, the hot female sushi chef falls head over heels in love with him and takes him home after he passes out. Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking, “This mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know guy walks into a restaurant and eats a live octopus in front of this woman and she falls for him? That’s insane!” Well — it gets even freakier because the “hero” runs into the bathroom and tries to rape her while she’s on the toilet, fails, and her reaction is basically, “Next time, go through with it,” after he apologizes. (As strange as all this sounds, it does make sense by the end of the movie.)

Well, as Oh Dae-su gets out on the street he starts getting mysterious calls from the person who had him imprisoned. He doesn’t know why the guy put him in there and what his problem with him is, but he does know that his very rich tormentor still has his eye on him. Eventually, Oh Dae-su figures out where he was held, grabs a clawhammer, and goes in after his tormentors. He kills and tortures some of them, again, with a hammer, and then fights his way out….at which point I am not going to tell you any more of the plot because there is one hell of a twist coming up later in the movie, one which I didn’t see coming.

On to Cho Seung-Hui. It’s very easy to understand what an angry, demented loser found so attractive about the movie. The protagonist is a guy with poor social skills, who’s a little crazy, murderously angry, and looking to wreak terrible vengeance on his enemies — and yet, he’s the righteous one — and yet, he gets the girl. Granted, later in the movie, this very clear picture gets much murkier, but the first half of the movie must have been right up the shooter’s alley.

As a movie, this is a twisted tale, but it’s well made and riveting. You really get sucked into the storyline by the mystery and the action. So, it’s definitely a thumbs up as a rental.

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