Saturday, October 29, 2016
has said that he named his protagonist Oh Dae-su as a near homonym for Oedipus, who shared a similar fate when he discovered the truth, but Oldboy is closer to Saw (James Wan, 2004) than to Sophocles. Nevertheless, Oldboy has provocative things to say about guilt and revenge, and Choi's performance as the abused and haunted Dae-su is superb. Ji-tae Yu is suavely menacing as the villain, and Hye-jeong Kang is touching as Mi-do, who aids Dae-su in his quest. The often startlingly grungy production design is by Seong-hie Ryu and the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung. There is a stunningly accomplished long take in the middle of the film in which the camera follows Dae-su as he single-handedly battles an army of opponents in a hallway that stretches across the wide screen like a frieze on the entablature of a temple. For once, however, a tour-de-force display of cinema technique doesn't overwhelm the rest of the film.