SYTYCR Round 1.15: Spuds Mckenzie VS. Falkor (OLDBOY)

by Nick Jobe · July 31, 2012 · So You Think You Can Review · 25 Comments
Talk about a tight race! This last one was literally a back-and-forth the entire way, right up until the last minutes! But in the end, Henry Swanson came out on top. Congrats! Alright, guys and gals… I don’t have an actual battle for you today. Due to another last-minute drop, I had to send Falkor automatically through to Round 2. But just like the last time this happened, I’m going to post the review anyway. So while there’s no voting, please leave your thoughts and comments below. Also, like last time, there will only be a 1-day wait, so you will get the next battle tomorrow. And… that will actually be the last battle of Round 1! I will announce the identities of all Round 1 Fallen on Friday.
Finally, I have updated the bracket again. Along with some name changes (due to a new contestant or two who replaced drops), I have added the films that will be reviewed in Round 3. So all contestants who made it through to the second round, you can go ahead and look at what you have waiting for you if you win the next round. Click to make the bracket bigger.

Oldboy Review
By Falkor
On the night of his infant daughter’s birthday, Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) finds himself wasted and in prison. After his best friend bails him out, he stops by a pay phone to call his daughter, and gets kidnapped by an unknown assailant. Dae-su is forced to live in a locked ‘hotel’ room for 15 years, not knowing why he is in there and who locked him in. Driven crazy by being alone for so long, he starts to plot his escape. When he is a month away from escaping, he finds himself in a nice suit on the roof of a building, with a cell phone and a wallet full of money. Not knowing why he was let go, who captured him, and why he was there for 15 years, Dae-su embarks on a journey to find the answers to all of these questions, no matter the cost.
Be warned: SPOILERS follow.
I had no idea what this movie was about when I rented it. To me, it looked like an action film set somewhere in Asia, so I was expecting some amazing fighting sequences and a barely-there plot. What I got, instead, were barely-there action sequences and an amazing plot. But did I like the movie? Not really. I’ll explain in a little bit.
When I first put the movie in, it started playing with dubbed over English. I don’t like watching movies like that. I like to watch movies the way they were filmed, and the way that the director wants people to watch the movie. So after about five minutes of watching the English version, I switched it back to Korean and turned on the English subtitles, and started watching the movie the way it was made. I’m glad I did that, because it brought a lot of authenticity to what I was watching. However, this is the first time that I have ever watched an Asian-language movie. Normally when I watch a foreign film, it is Spanish or French – so there are similarities between the language being spoken and English. So I am able to track what is being said without forcing myself to see every single subtitle. There are no similarities between Korean and English, so I found myself really taken out of the experience. I had to continually rewind to read a subtitle that I missed because I was watching what was happening, or to see what the characters were doing because I missed it while reading the subtitles. It’s not a fault of the filmmakers or anything, it just really took me out of the film and consistently reminded me that I was just watching a movie. I like to be immersed in a film, not taken out of it.
Min-sik Choi is a very talented actor. It would have been easy for a lesser actor to really ham up the scenes in the hotel room in which Dae-su was slowly going insane, but Choi brought a silent strength to his scenes that really sold the character. I also thought he did a phenomenal job at the end of the movie, when he was begging his captor to have mercy on him. Dae-su, by the end of the film, is a man pushed to the edge, hanging by a thread and Choi’s performance really sold this progression. However, I didn’t really enjoy the villain of the piece, Woo-jin Lee (Ji-tae Yu). He spends the entire movie hiding in the shadows, which is very effective because it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time trying to figure out who was doing this to Dae-su. But when we finally get to see him, he just sits there and laughs. This man would be a desperately crazy man, given what he has been through in his life, but he is just walking around looking menacing, putting on a nice suit. I didn’t really buy his performance.
This movie is wildly regarded as a master piece. It has won several awards and is currently at 81% at Rotten Tomatoes. However, I really don’t think that it is worth all the hype. Yes, the explanation as to why he was locked up for 15 years caught me by surprise and made sense. But what is the point of this movie? Why did I just spend 2 hours of my life watching it? What can I take away from it? The answer, unfortunately, is nothing. I’m not saying that every movie has to have a higher purpose and a greater meaning. Some movies exist to simply entertain, or make us laugh, or make us cry, or say something about the human condition. But what happened in this movie is so far removed from anything that I will ever experience, that I don’t really see the point it why it exists. I could understand this being a great film if it was what I originally thought it was – an epic revenge movie with awesome action scenes. Then, even if the end result was the same, I would get the point of the film. But it didn’t even have that going for it.

Another way they could have made this movie have more of an impact was if Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) – Dae-su’s daughter who he is tricked into having sex with – found out that Dae-su was in fact her father, and we got to see the results of this revelation. Would she still want to be with him as a lover? Would she be able to forgive him and herself and start to live as child and parent? This is how this movie could have had more of an impact – the importance of family and how strong familial ties really are. Again, they unfortunately did not explore any of this. The movie ended with Dae-su having his memory erased.

I wanted to like this movie – I really did. But there is just so much that was left untouched that it feels like it isn’t finished. And I can’t shake that feeling.