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OLDBOY

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 120 minutes, feature audio commentary, delted scenes with optional commentary, director interview, photo gallery, and trailers

STUDIO: Tartan/ Showeast

RELEASE DATE: 8-23-2006

Vengeance has it's consequences. Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik) is a businessman who is taken off the street one day and imprisoned for 15 years. During that time, he is framed for his wife's murder and his daughter grew up without him. Now he is free and has five days to figure why he was locked up to save the life of the woman he just met, Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang). However, Da-Su comes to realize that his enemy continues to torment him as he searches for the truth. Will Dae-Su be free of his enemy when he learns the truth? Will he carry out his revenge?

OLDBOY is a masterpiece. Director Park Chanwook is a true talent. SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE was relentless and brutal, but OLDBOY finds a balance that isn't as strong as in the first movie of the Vengeance trilogy. OLDBOY blends drama, mystery, action, and romance in one of the best films to come from South Korea so far. Choi Min-Sik gives a gripping performance as a man who is tortured and becomes a monster, but the movie also belongs to Ji-tae Yu who plays the cold and twisted enemy. I can't wait to see LADY VENGEANCE. The twists in the last half hour hit you like a jackhammer. I don't think I would have done the same things like Dae-Su if I ended up in that situation. People may disagree and not understand why he did it, but it makes Oh Dae-Su such a tragic and human figure. One of my favorite parts take place in the hotel where it starts as romantic before turning creepy minutes later. The fight scenes are raw and uncompromising. If a man is hurt, he does fall down. In the end, it all comes down to whether revenge is worth it and having the power to live with your choices.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Image detail is good, but the action scenes could have used a little higher bit rate. The transfer is another good job from Tartan.

AUDIO: Korean 5.1 EX Dolby Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround

Subtitles: English, Spanish (for Korean 5.1 EX DS track only)

Pick the Korean language track because the English dubbed version isn't one of the best jobs. I have heard English dubbed tracks better than the original language track (Howl's Moving Castle) and bad tracks (Empire Of The Wolves). The English dubbed acting is flat and lacking in emotion and the English dub track doesn't always sync with the lip movements.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The disc has fantastic extras. The 8 deleted scenes (with optional director commentary) show you what gets lost when a film is edited down. The feature audio commentary is with Cinematographer Chung Chung-Hoon and director Park Chanwook. It is one of the most interesting technical commentary tracks for a movie. They say how lack of more money effected some scenes and shots, the bleach bypass process used on the film negative to bring out the shadows and make everything green, various shots in the film, and many production design and production tidbits.

The Interview With The Director is an audience asking Park Chanwook questions. Various Oldboy trailers (including the Oldboy Contest Winner trailer), previews for other Tartan DVDs, and a photo gallery round out the assortment of extras.

FINAL ANALYSIS: OLDBOY is an instant classic. If you're looking for a good revenge tale, look no further. If you're squeamish, a couple of scenes might turn you off. OLDBOY is one I would recommend over SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE. It is better than many of the movies being made in the USA. Definitely worth watching.

this review is (c)3-21-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com