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Oldboy DVD Review (Region 3)

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, Jun 12, 2005.

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  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Oldboy/OldboyR3.jpg' ALT='OLDBOY DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>OLDBOY</FONT><br>Reviewed June 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Russell Rafferty&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Russell Rafferty</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 5</B></P><P>So, one of the most well known eastern horror movies lands on my doorstep for me to review. I was ecstatic. The word is this is one of the most potent movies in recent times. Good news is that it is, but there is one caveat with which I cannot reconcile myself. More on that later, though. </p><P>The plot of Old Boy is somewhat convoluted. It’s a bit like 12 Monkeys in that it is only at the end do you understand what is going on with previously surreal nonsensical scenes suddenly making much more sense. Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) is kidnapped by persons unknown and imprisoned in an anonymous apartment with no window or contact with the outside world save an old TV set. Mentally tortured, hypnotised and fed the same food, Dae-su hatches a plan to escape his prison that takes him fifteen years to execute. When out, with only what he has learnt on TV for assistance, Dae-su seeks the truth: why was he imprisoned in the first place, what had he done and who had he become? The truth would have more consequences and dark secrets than he could imagine. </p><P>There is no denying that Old Boy is directed with astonishing skill. One tends to think of Tarantino and his blend of styles not normally associated with a certain genre. However, while Tarantino appears to be contrived and unoriginal with his “homages”, Chan-wook Park is anything but. Original, fresh and wholly his own style, he gives Old Boy a real sense of surreal oppression that draws the viewer in. Indeed by the final revelations we are as part of the movie as the onscreen characters. Editorially, cinematographically, directorially, any way you can think of, Old Boy is nigh on perfect. Even the rather long running time never seems past it’s sell by date until the very end. </p><P>I suppose that Thriller is a good fit, technically, for Old Boy seeing as there is precious little actual up front horror content. Such is the otherworldly mise en scene, the inescapable predicament of the protagonist and the overpowering presence of Dae-su’s tormentor, Old Boy is a horror movie more than anything else. Once that transition is made anything could happen with the story free to explore the less believable realms of reason. Basically, anything goes. From there you are only a hop skip and a jump before you get some truly wince-worthy images. It’s not quite as bad as the pliers’ scene in Dark Hours but there is some DIY dentistry and some odd use of scissors. However, and this is a big <i>however</i>, one scene completely wrecks this movie for me and I really can’t get past it. It may be a cultural thing, and Korean movies did/do have a reputation for animal cruelty. Seeing it onscreen is a different matter entirely. At one point we see Dae-su eat a live octopus for no really good reason, should there ever be defendable reason. Sorry, but in my opinion, there is no way on this planet, no matter what the artistic intentions are, that a wholly intelligent animal like an octopus should be eaten alive for entertainment. If it weren’t for this scene, this would get a whole hearted recommendation. </p> <P><B>Picture : 7</B></P><P>Quality is pretty good. Colours are never over saturated, save a few reds here and there and contrasts are handled well. Look out for some internet café scenes about 50 minutes into the movie to see how well shot Old Boy is. There is a small amount of fuzz in the picture, but nothing unusual. There is one scene that has a greatly reduced quality that I can only assume is intentional. I cannot think why, but grain is very present and obscures details like the pattern of a dress, or facial characteristics. There is no excessive blocking or edge enhancements to what is a remarkably natural looking print.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Oldboy/OldboyR3_1.jpg' ALT='OLDBOY'></P><P><B>Sound : 7</B></P><P>The best part of Old Boy’s track is the musical score. It isn’t used too much, but when it is, like at the very beginning, it works exceptionally well. Dialogue has a clean snap to it that allows every vocal characteristic be heard. Some of the more emotionally charged scenes toward the end are a joy to listen to and wince at. Spot effects are subtle with very little in the way of crash-bang obviousness. This is all well and good, though, fitting in well with the movie. The DTS track is a half bit rate one and offers no discernable advantages over the DD one.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Oldboy/OldboyR3_2.jpg' ALT='OLDBOY'></P><P><B>Extras : 1</B></P><P>The extras present are all in Korean with no English subtitles. This is fine as this disc is a Korean R3 one, but for most of us, this makes watching the disc’s extras a bit academic.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Oldboy/OldboyR3_3.jpg' ALT='OLDBOY'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 7.82 Mbps.</P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/Oldboy/OldboyR3_bitrate.jpg' ALT='OLDBOY'></P><P><B>Verdict : 5</B></P><P>Sadly, I’m not impressed when a movie features animal cruelty and therefore find this still disturbing, however if you are nonplussed by this, then Old Boy has much to offer, but for me to go out and say “yes this is good entertainment – go and buy it” is just a step too far.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/pid-1003869237/code-k/section-videos/" target=”_blank”><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>OLDBOY (2003)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ACTION' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=MYSTERY' target='_blank'>MYSTERY</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=THRILLER' target='_blank'>THRILLER</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=CHAN-WOOK PARK' target='_blank'>CHAN-WOOK PARK</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=MIN-SIK CHOI' target='_blank'>MIN-SIK CHOI</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=JI-TAE YU' target='_blank'>JI-TAE YU</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=HYE-JEONG KANG' target='_blank'>HYE-JEONG KANG</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=DAE-HAN JI' target='_blank'>DAE-HAN JI</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(KOREA)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Edko Films. Released Thursday 23rd December 2004</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>120 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>12</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Korean Dolby Digital <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/EX.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='Dolby Digital EX Soundtrack'> EX 6.1<BR>Korean <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/dts.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> ES 6.1</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Traditional Chinese</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Behind the Scenes (Korean)<BR>Cast/Crew (Korean)<BR>Photo Gallery</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     
  2. Geesus

    Geesus
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    While I agree with you that any animal cruelty on film is unnecessary, it shouldn't detract from the rest of the action really.

    Either way, I think this film was flawed for more significant reasons and seems unfathomably overrated.
     
  3. Gary D

    Gary D
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    one of the best films of 2004 by a long way. as for the octopus bit - the BBFC had no problem with it as they left it in.

    if i'd reviewed it i'd tell people to buy it. :D

    Gary
     
  4. spocktra

    spocktra
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    I hope not too many people are dissuaded by this review.Old boy is flawed but beats hands down most of the tripe coming out at the moment.I gave up trusting reviews on anything years ago.
     
  5. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton
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    Guys
    I think you need to read the review again, from my interpretation Russell thought it was very good, but the small scene put him off on moral grounds. I understand that and commend him for saying so. But you should experience this film in my opinion and Russell says such with the exception.
    Spookta, thanks for your comments, it is always someone elses opinion.
     
  6. russraff

    russraff
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    The BBFC doesn't have a problem with it because Octopi don't have vertebrae. Therefore it bypasses the animal cruelty regulations (or so I believe). If he were eating a live monkey it would be cut out post haste. In fact, if he ere eating a live monkey, or labrador would the "you can't judge a movie because of one scene" missive still stand in peoples minds? After all, Octopi are very intelligent, but they can't "speak". Somehow I think a howling dog or screatching chimp would elicit a far more aggressive cut from the BBFC...

    You should post your opinions as to why the movie is flawed, so that others may make an informed decision. Personally, I thought, other than the octopus scene, that the movie was superb and couldn't really fault it. I suppose the ending was a bit drawn out, but that really is a minor niggle, and not worth mentioning IMO. What didn't you like and how would the movie have benefited from a different approach?

    Russell
     
  7. Geesus

    Geesus
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    SPOILERS

    Well I don't really want to delive too deeply into the matter, as it's not really my job to try and disuade, or persuade, people into seeing a certain movie, but I found it deeply average.

    The storyline cannot decide whether it wants to be a gritty realistic stab at the archetypal 'revenge flick' or pure fantasy - are we expected to believe that the lead characters daily regiment of 'punching a wall a lot' during his imprisonment, somehow gives him the skills to take on dozens of armed opponents, as in the much lauded 'fight scene'?

    The storyline is also hideously predictable, with the twist guessed by this viewer, during the 1st meeting between the leads, despite the best efforts of the casting director, who must have been drunk the day he decided to cast a woman who looks about 5 years younger than her father, tops, in one of the films key roles - if you don't believe the paternal relationship between the two, then the film falls at the first hurdle, as it did for me.

    The camerawork too was the same kind of trendy, predictable MTV-standard fare, with little or no originality. I liked the soundtrack though.


    SPOILERS END
     
  8. ghostdog

    ghostdog
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    Can't believe the reviewer thought it was a horror film..............
     
  9. russraff

    russraff
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    Old boy is a horror movie in every way that counts much like Predator, Saw, The Thing, Cape Fear or Se7en are - they all use staple horror mechanics to add tension to the movie. As I said in the review, despite Old Boy technically being a thriller, the way in which the characters interact and the plot unfolds makes it a horror movie.

    Geesus, good points well made, even if I dissagree! ;)

    Russell
     
  10. spocktra

    spocktra
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    Personally i found the sub-plot far more shocking than anything else.Which is why in the pending hollywood rehash ,they cannot possibly keep true to the original.
     
  11. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    I would love to see this film but the only thing that puts me off is that the ‘gory’ nature of the film meaning that I’d never get a chance to watch it (the wife hates anything too graphic). I’ve heard some comments talking about violence for violence-sake, is that true or is it set in context?
     
  12. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    Tej

    It's a bit of both really - but the best thing (read - how to get around this) you could do is grab this and 3-Iron (Check out my review). The wife may not like this, but 3-Iron is a romance movie and I'm sure she'll appreciate it (If I'm wrong, I'd be amazed - it's just a very beautiful type movie).
     
  13. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    Cheers for the heads up Seth, never heard of 3-Iron – will check out the review right now! :hiya:
     
  14. edinburgh160

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    Oldboy is a masterpiece - period.
    I would not say it is a horror, more a disturbing story, but if you love foreign movies I would urge you to buy this or rent at least.
    I am gutted that they are making a western version though, although maybe more people will watch this as a result.
     
  15. edinburgh160

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    beware m8 ( no offence Seth)
     
  16. mattgb

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    I agree with spocktra in that the sub-plot was much more shocking than the scene with the octopus. I also agree with some of the views that the plot has some holes - or at least areas where it is hard to grasp what exactly is going on (although that may have been the cider - doesn't go that well with subtitled movies :)). However, as with films like The Tale of Two Sisters/Save the Green Planet, I think this approach to story-telling is, frankly, brilliant - it leaves you 1) Wanting more and 2) Discussing for hours on end what actually happened etc.

    Anyway, Seth, what would you have given the film if the octopus scene were not present (as I reckon your lowly score of 5 would put some people off even bothering to read the review let a lone watch the movie)?
     
  17. russraff

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    It would have got an 8

    I must say, mind, that the score is the least important bit of the whole review. For me, you can do away with the numbers and just have the description.

    Russell
     
  18. Mumblesh

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    Animals eat animals... that's life isn't it? You can argue as to the reasons it was included, the central character hadn't eaten through choice for a long time and was obviously disturbed. Obviously in Korea this isn't considered offensive.

    Would it have been less offensive if he had cooked the octopus first?
     
  19. russraff

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    In answer to your question, animals do indeed eat other animals, but out of necessity, not for our enjoyment.
    I say again, if this was a little puppy, all furry and cute, and that was being eaten alive - howling as he crunched down on the puppy's skull or legbone, this debate wouldnt be.
     
  20. Sigismund

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    I love these types of discussion. :smashin:

    In my opinion reading reviews tells us just as much about the reviewer as it does the movie. A reviewer may think that a movie is superb, whilst some individuals will disagree completely!

    In this instance, Russell has explained that he found this particular scene objectionable, and without this one scene the movie would get his whole hearted recommendation. For me that kind of describes what's good about reading reviews - now we all know a little about the movie we can make a more informed choice as to whether it seems like "our kind of film". Some people may be a little put off by this cruelty to an animal... whilst others may in part be drawn in because of it.

    Attempting to argue against Russell's opinion is surely pretty pointless. Of course, offering a different, perhaps oppposing opinion, is in part what the forums are about. :)
     
  21. ButtonUPS

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    OK...................so................. the squid eating yes...........incest ermmm...........no?

    I loved the film. :thumbsup:
     
  22. Slothy

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    I truly enjoyed this movie, and would certainly recommend it to others. I thought it was clever, suspenseful, and pretty darn entertaining.

    Perhaps the reviewer will also mark down any movie in which lobsters are consumed? Cultural differences, such as what is considered acceptable food in different places of the world should not, in my humble opinion, be allowed to decrease a score from an 8 to a 5.
     
  23. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    I think that the whole reason why Russell was offended, was not because Octopus was consumed, but a live Octopus. I think the general topic has been discussed completely already.
     
  24. russraff

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    If the lobster was being eaten alive, on set, for our enjoyment, then yes I would. I say again, if the animal was a cute kitten or puppy, then I am sure this debate would not be happening. There is no place in cinema for wanton animal cruelty, period. If you , or anyone else, think there is something wholesome or enjoyable in such cruelty, then I will fundamentally dissagree with those on a great many things.

    This is all I have to say on this matter.
     
  25. meansizzler

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    I heard that the octopus was not alive, it only looked alive, only needed to appear to be alive...
     
  26. boaby

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    The octopus was indeed alive, and they actually went through three before they got the shot they wanted. To anyone yet to watch the movie, if this scene makes you queasy then i'd recommend to not watch the extras.

    Moral issues aside, in context, i believe the scene worked well to convey his emotional-isolation after his imprisonment, the fact that he has so much distilled anger that he wants to eat a living creature shows how far removed he his from his former self.

    Simply put, this movie is a must see. Its films like Old Boy that show how stale hollywood has become, and yes, it sickens me that here is *another* movie that they're going to butcher with a remake - why not just save millions by buying the rights and marketing the original instead?

    Anyhoo, i liked this film so much that i named my cats after the central characters, Dae-su and Mido.
     
  27. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    I am closing this thread as it seems to be getting particularly circular.

    If someone wishes to add something different (i.e. not Octopus related), then I'll reopen it.
     
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