Flash Movie Review: Oldboy

It was a delayed reaction on my part when I heard the undecipherable sounds in the subway car. It was white noise or at least I thought it was when it coughed out of the train car speakers. The train was being detoured to the elevated tracks instead of its usual route and going express to a station that was unfamiliar to me. I was stuck as I gazed out the window at the new views of the city’s landscapes. It became exciting for me since I was seeing some of the city’s skyscrapers from a new angle and they were magnificent. We finally reached the station where I stepped out onto the platform, only to be surprised by what I saw before me. The station had been remodeled to its original look from the 1920’s. Freshly painted with wide brass signs hung on the wall, the place was a knockout. Here my trip had started out on an ordinary trek and wound up in a different place that shocked me. The same thing happened to me when I went to see this action mystery movie. I had no prior knowledge, did not know it was a remake of a South Korean cult classic or that the story would be so twisted. Josh Brolin (Men in Black 3, Milk) played alcoholic advertising executive, Joe Doucett. After a night of heavy drinking Joe woke up to find himself in a strange motel room. It turned out not to be a motel room but a cell, where he remained for the next 20 years. With no explanation or human contact to explain why he was imprisoned, one day Joe woke up and found himself free in an open field. He would spend every waking minute tracking down the people responsible for his imprisonment and take revenge on them. Directed by Spike Lee (Malcom X, Inside Man), visually the scenes were exciting but not for the faint of heart. There were extremely bloody and violent scenes in this action drama. Josh appeared to have bulked up for the demanding role and he impressed me with his determined darkness. Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House, Liberal Arts) brought her high level of excellent acting skills to her performance as Marie Sebastian, a first responder who was drawn into Joe’s plight. The story took such twisted turns that it was not a shock to see Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) play the character Chaney. I have to honestly say this bizarre movie left me with mixed feelings. The cast was good but I felt some of the scenes lacked any depth, besides not making much sense to me. I would be very curious to get the original film and see why it has reached a cult status. Since I prefer knowing as little as possible when I go see a movie, I was very much taken aback by this crazy mystery; I just do not know if I enjoyed the ride. There were scenes with blood and violence.


2 1/4 stars

About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on December 4, 2013, in Drama and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. aguywithoutboxers

    A dark film, indeed. Interesting!

  2. I actually have the original S. Korean dvd.

  3. I’ve seen this film a while ago, and was under its spell for days. It is the most disturbing thing ever, yet an absolute masterpiece. I’m not sure I could watch it again, but strongly recommend everyone to give it a give once (just make sure your stomach is ready).
    Brilliant story!

    • I just realized you talk about an American version – while I commented on the original film, as I’ve seen that one.

      • Thank you for leaving this 2nd comment since I was going to respond to the first one and ask for clarification. I will most certainly see the Korean version since you and everyone else have said good things about it.

  4. Your lovely blog has been nominated the ‘Blog Of 2013′ award.


    Your kind acceptance is much appreciated. Take care and have a fantastic weekend! 😀

  5. Be sure to see the original. It was re-released recently re-mastered on. blu-ray. I’d be interested to know how you think it compares to the Spike Lee version, especially since you saw that first without prior knowledge of the Korean film.

  6. The Korean version is still available on YouTube. Excellent film.

  7. a remake, hope as good as an original one.

  8. I too have seen the original Korean movie. Has Spike Lee run out of things to say?

    • From the comments and reading other reviews now it seems the Korean film is the one to see. Thanks for coming by to leave your comments.

      • always a pleasure……. love your stuff even when, on the very odd occasion, I don’t agree. Thank you for posting your stuff. I know how much effort you put it.
        P.S. a young friend of mine was interested in writing movie reviews for his local newspaper and asked my opinion of his work. He has talent and I told him about your blog. He loves your stuff too.

      • Gee, thank you so much; I am touched by your kind comment Terry. Please wish your friend good luck with his reviews and I wish you continued joy with your posts.

  9. Theatre of Pain

    I just watched this one on BR and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very dark and violent and it may be worth mentioning some a short rape scene as movies that usually have rape in them have it listed in the opening along with adult content, adult language, nudity, etc. If it is a particularly long rape scene, it will be at the top of the list but in the case of this film, it would probably be at the bottom due to it’s shortened screen time and lack of detail. What I enjoyed most abou this movie aside from the obviously dark theme was the mystery surrounding it. One of the biggest letdowns for me in a mystery is figuring out the answer long before the movie is over but this one kept me guessing until the very end. I also appreciated Joe’s decision at the end of the film finding it to be an exemplary way of displaying the remorse for past actions. (I’m really trying to skirt around some of the major plotpoints and most shocking reveals here.) Overall, I would say this is definitely my kind of movie but I would very selective as to who I recommended it to because as you have already pointed out, it most definitely isn’t for the faint of heart.

    • Not only do I have to thank you for your comments, but for not mentioning major plot points. As you know I try to keep the movie’s story to a bare minimum. It is funny as I was watching this movie I felt you would enjoy it. Thanks again for your always insightful comments, I appreciate it.

      • Theatre of Pain

        Geez I must have been tired to have left so many typos in my previous comment and here it is again… 1:52am and I’m still awake.

        But I’m right there with you on spoilers. I enjoy your reviews for the interesting opening stories you create and the fact that you try to avoid spoilers. When it comes to movies, I usually watch one or two trailers on television. I never go online in search of interviews or behind the scenes footage until after I’ve seen the movie in most cases but I know that with you, I can read the review without worry and I can’t tell you how much it is appreciated.

        Completely unrelated… But I watched K-Pax (2001) for the first time today starring Kevin Spacey (who is simply awesome) and Jeff Bridges. I found it to be a fantastic movie and really don’t know why it took me so long to see it. I like the mysticism that it offered and found it to be a touching story in the same vein as movies like The Green Mile, Meet Joe Black and Powder. In the unlikely chance that you have somehow missed it and enjoyed the other movies I’ve mentioned, I highly recommend it.

      • What the heck are you doing up so late? Thanks for the vote of confidence and I have to say I am just like you regarding only seeing the movie trailer at the theater or on television. I seek out nothing until after I have seen the film and written about it. Powder was a wonderful film as were the others you mentioned. I did see K-Pax but barely have a memory of it; I will need to put it in my queue for viewing again. BTW, you have mentioned you watch films on BR and I am not familiar with it. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks again.

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