Monday, May 12, 2014

SzG Reviews: OldBoy (2013)

**This Review was supposed to go up during the theatrical release of the movie but it was lost.  I retooled it a little bit and here it is in its full glory.  Hope you enjoy

Hammer Says: See this in theaters!

So I must confess I used to be a HUGE Asian movie fan back in the day.  And by Asian I'm referring to Korean, Japanese and Chinese movies.   Every big convention I attended had me searching for the new/old DVDs of Asian movies that I had to have.  Many of these times I had only briefly read about these movies as this was back before the streaming and downloading revolution that we now live in after all.  Why do I bring this up for the review of OldBoy? Well, in my travels I had definitely heard of the prolific OldBoy but I had never gotten around to seeing it.  Even today with the movie just a Netflix click away and no excuses I still had not seen it.  Shame me now, I know my old Con scouring self would have. Enough of that existential nonsense. For those in the dark, I'm sure there are few out there, OldBoy is a remake of the Korean movie of the same name made back in 2003.

Original Korean OldBoy (2003)                                 American Remake OldBoy (2013)

the movie in 1 sentence:
After 20 years of imprisonment in a  hotel room for no reason the main character is released with the orders to find out who imprisoned him and why.

So going into this movie I started off with a mostly blank slate.  I was aware of the big spoiler sadly, which if you do know please don't spoil it for anyone because I think it impacts the experience.  I took my friend Snyder with me.  Since he didn't know anything about the movie I used him has a means of getting the layman's feeling on the movie.

As I said at the top, I really enjoyed this movie and I would recommend seeing it in the theaters. From a visual perspective this movie was beautiful and I absolutely loved Josh Brolin's performance as a man who is very much on brink of snapping at any moment.  I also thought that when the time called for it he showed how even among the anger there can be a caring/feeling individual underneath.  Sam Jackson's character felt just like Jackson stepped on the set with a different set of clothes, he doesn't give a bad performance but if you're looking for ground breaking or pivotal you won't find it here. The villain,  The Stranger,  plays an almost slapstick comic book villain in the beginning but as the story goes on his eccentric-ism begins to make more sense.  The action is fun and is almost always shot from a static angle so that you can see it all go down, which I really appreciate as a fan of fight choreography. Above all else the payoff for this 2 hour movie is something that I haven't seen in theaters, and was a complete surprise to my friend as well.  Go see this I say!

Here is this trailer for the 2003 version:

Here is the trailer for the 2013 version:

Now to soothe my former Asian movie self I did see the 2003 OldBoy the day after seeing the remake just so I could get a good comparison.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Many of my fellow Asian movie loving friends were telling me how they felt wronged that the 2003 masterpiece was being remade, not to mention being remade by Spike Lee.  Even with 10 years and a lot of money separating these two movies there was a lot they had in common.  Much of the story remains the same, though tweeked to make it relevant to western audiences.  The acting is pretty good, though the characters reactions to events seem a little strange some of the time (the whole ending skews completely different).  Over all The 2003 was well a head of its time with such a break out crazy story and I can see the love for it. But when all is said and done I can still say that I prefer the 2013 version more.  I won't make any arguments regarding which one is superior but merely state that I have more fun with the 2013 version.

If you want to delve in some more and read some comparisons of whats different between the two films the check out this Vulture Article but be forewarned it is spoiler ridden.


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