By George Rose
September 9, 2009
This is one of those movies that you think is just a haunting drama that turns into a complete mind-f*ck. Not like, "oh, remember how in Fight Club, it was all just his imaginary friend?!" No, not like that at all. At first, we find out that Ho was imprisoned for spreading rumors in high school. For a moment, I thought the film took the lame way out, revealing a corny story about childhood nonsense. Really, who cares about calling some girl a slut? That's no reason to imprison someone and it isn't close to why he was. The madness of the first half of the movie is partially weakened by this initial assumption but all that is meant to do is lower your expectations, because once you think the movie is plotted around a childhood quarrel you are sent into some of the most disturbing revelations I have seen in a movie. Ever.
The rumors spread? Only the tip of the iceberg. The ways in which the villain exacts his revenge on Ho? Let's just say I'd rather be eaten by Hannibal Lecter. I had to go outside and smoke three cigarettes after watching it I was so distorted. Walking around the airport became a nightmare in and of itself, my loneliness consuming me only a fraction of how it screwed with Ho's mind. The many standby fliers waiting around for flights, napping soundly in their sleeping bags, looked like a sea of the dead. Children became demon munchkins. Flight attendants became... well, flight attendants.
One of the reasons my roommate loves the Asian culture so much is because it is void of boundaries. Because Asians are generally tame people, always working together to better the whole, they are rewarded with such extreme entertainment. This movie is not for the faint of heart. I could barely stomach when Ho was ripping the teeth out of one of his foe's mouth with a hammer but, in retrospect, that maybe have been one of the Disney-light moments of the film. This movie will haunt me for hours to come, in a good way. In a way that proves a movie can be disturbing but meaningful, unlike the Saw sequels and Hostel movies. Like the proverbs the characters reference and later use against each other, the movie has depth at its core. It's just surrounded by death and manipulation. Just because it's horrific doesn't mean it isn't powerful. Because of its severe impact on me, Oldboy will be regarded as one of those epic movie-going experiences that reminded me why I enjoy watching movies so much in the first place: to feel something different, outside of "normal" life. Even if what I feel is awful and awkward. Thanks a lot, roommate. Now I never want to have children.
Overall Rating: A-
P.S. I Love You (2007)
In an attempt to think happy thoughts again, which I figured Oldboy had made me incapable of, I decided to watch one of my favorite romance movies. I saw it with one of my best American friends, Kaity, when it was released in theaters and she has never let me live that day down. You'll learn why in just a bit.