If somebody left a bag of flaming excrement on your doorstep, would you be more interested in finding out WHO did it or WHY it was done? What if, instead of the flaming shit, you were kidnapped and held prisoner in a gay, 70s motif prison cell for 15 years with a television as your only friend, and while you were locked up, somebody killed your wife, set you up for the crime, and wouldn't let you commit suicide? WHO or WHY would be the more important question for you? Well, that's basically the main plot of the South Korean film Old Boy. And if you think that quick set up had potential, the rest of the movie blows it away with even more awesomeness... Yeah, you know what I mean despite my horrible grammar. Fuck off.
Seriously, South Korea has recently come from out of nowhere to become the new king of Asian cinema. The production values of their movies dwarf even the best that Hong Kong has to offer, and most of the stuff that I've seen from there just makes me giddy thinking about them. Movies like Shiri, 2009: Lost Memories, My Wife is a Gangster, Silmido, The Quiet Family, My Sassy Girl, and Taegukgi have all been grand slams for me (Yesterday was a complete mess, but at least it looked good). Nice. Anyway, as I stated above, the concept for Old Boy is really strange, but extremely well executed. We follow arrogant family man, Dae-su Oh, as he gets arrested for being a drunk asshole one night, and then his long time buddy has to bail him out of jail so that he can get home for his little daughter's birthday party. Soon after getting out of the slammer though, Dae-su disappears. We then follow Dae-su's new (unwanted) life in a swanky "That 70s Show" styled prison that doesn't even have a real window to the outside world, just a TV. From the TV he learns that his wife is soon murdered, and he himself becomes the main suspect; He learns despair, and then eventually hope; He watches and learns... He learns everything he possibly can, and then he teaches himself stuff that he never knew he was capable of. Dae-su learns to fight by shadow boxing himself. He learns discipline by training his body to endure pain, and to work past his limits. He does attempt suicide a few times early on, but his mysterious captors intervene to save his life time and again. After realizing that he can't escape that way, Dae-su turns his attention to trying to break out of his prison by digging through the concrete wall behind his bed with a metal chopstick (in a Shawshank Redemption kind of way). After a while (15 fucking years, and before he can free himself), he is gassed, knocked out, and released back into the public. There, with just the clothes on his back and a little bit of money in his wallet, he starts to try and figure out WHO locked him up.
Dae-su's got a long list of people he's really pissed off in the past. Narrowing it down will not be easy, especially when he gets a mysterious message that tells him "Whether it be a grain of sand or a rock, in water they sink the same." Meaning that his captor was probably somebody he didn't even know he ticked off -- somebody he may have even forgotten about. Keep up with me here.
Soon Dae-su's got some help in finding the out the truth. His old buddy (who bailed him out of jail in the beginning) and a cute, young, female sushi-chef soon come to his aid and help him try to figure out the small clues that he has been given by a mysterious voice over the phone (who always seems to know right where to find him) to solve the puzzle. Early on, Dae-su finds out the WHO, but is he able to kill his captor before being told the WHY? This, for you slow fucks out there, brings us back to the "flaming excrement" equation I mentioned in the opening paragraph... My God, you are a slow one, aren't you? Anyway, figuring out the WHY is the cool part of this movie... And then Dae-su has to figure out the other WHY... The "WHY was he even let out?" question. Oh man, I hope I didn't give too much away. It's just... It's just too good to ruin. Just go watch it now. Experience the revelations first hand before somebody even more of a dickhead than I ruins it for you.
Besides the mystery/mysteries that we unravel with the protagonist, what makes Old Boy so razor roxor is the look and feel of the movie. It's so damn gritty and ferocious. This is one fucking violent film. And it's all in-your-face too, without seeming like the visuals are there to shock you. There's a tooth-pulling scene that will make you cringe. There's that "tongue-scissoring scene" that will make you scream "Sweet Ave Maria, fuck me with a razor blade dildo!" (seriously, this "tongue shot" puts a kind of similar scene from Ichi the Killer to shame). Oh, then there's that one fight scene that is so punch-kick-wow with its non-stop, uncut 3 minute brawl... I forgot my point other than it is awesome. Dae-su can take it just as well as he can dish it out. He is the ultimate, self-taught bad ass.
Oh, and the ending... Just, whoa. That was one of the best (if not the sickest) payoffs I have ever witnessed. The way the tables turn so often and so fast made my head spin. Whoever the fuck wrote and directed this thing is a cinematic god. Sir/madam, I bow to you. GIVE US MORE! I mean, the ending is just so... So fucking wrong. So many levels of wrong. Oh man. Let me take this time to put out an apology to all those I may have wronged in the past. If there is anybody out there reading this from my college, high school, or even grade school years whom I have pissed off for some reason, please... PLEASE give me a chance to formally apologize before fucking me over as bad as Dae-su was. I can kowtow and kiss ass with the best of them.
NOOOOOOO! Noooooooooo! The horrible memories are all flooding back to me! The... The time that my class of Sophmores locked me in the science class closet, where I only had the guinea pigs and lab mice to eat, and that AM radio, which was my only portal to the outside world. It was there that I found out that Kennedy was assassinated, that man had walked on the moon, and that President Nixon had to resign his office due to the controversy that overflowed from the Watergate debacle. I find it very sad that I was only able to live these joyless times with my country while in captivity, locked away from all aspects of human contact... Well, until I remembered that there was a big window in the back of the closet that led to the school track. It was then, after I had tasted freedom for the first time in ages that I found a newspaper in the trash can and found out that I had only been locked up for half an afternoon. Apparently when you've been sniffing formaldehyde your whole life you tend to miss lots of the world around you... Thank God for that history channel on the radio or I never would have found out that Elvis died on his toilet back in '77... Though that does bring up the question of "who then did I meet in Saskatchewan in the Winter of '98?" That guy made the best banana and rat sandwich I have ever eaten... Well, at least the best since the time I made one for myself out of Mr. Squeakers while in the closet. It's the circle of life, my friend.
Kuni eat live squid like your mother fucker, bee-yatch! The Kuni knows how to lick the octopus. Soooo slimy! Mmm mmm mmmmmm! Bite the head of squid! Suck it down into Kuni belly! Feeeeel wriggle in tummy. Kuni knows. Hee hee! Kuni now tickled from inside like the stomach of Kuni is a child and squid is lovely Michael Jackson! Tee hee!